Delusional Young People

by Don Boudreaux on June 29, 2007

in Standard of Living

I love this post from Liberty Belles.

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{ 28 comments }

Max June 29, 2007 at 3:17 am

I am rather not amused, since this is my generation and they seem to be as willingly delusioned by mainstream news snippets as it could get.
Is this the information age, where people only ingest a few fact-bits offered by the most convenient way possible, without exploring a topic more closely? Or is it just that teaching and idea market dominance of socialist ideas has finally tickled down to kids?

McKenzie June 29, 2007 at 3:40 am

I am right there with you, Max. I'm always amazed by how liberal we as the younger generation are based on how little research we do into things. Without knowing the bigger picture, it's way too easy to believe in "magic money" and being able to afford all the socialist programs that are really picking up steam. I'll have to admit, just a couple of years ago I was eating it up to. Then I started taking economics. It's eye opening.

Keith June 29, 2007 at 7:34 am

My daughter falls into this age range but I think I've poisoned her with enough libertarian thinking that she doesn't follow the lemmings. She tells me about discussions she's had with her friends on these topics and when she makes a logical point or cites evidence to the contrary of the "accepted concensus", she's typically ignored or greeted with silence. These issues have become religous and logic is irrelevant.

TS June 29, 2007 at 7:53 am

They are not delusional, they are poisoned by the compulsory k-12 education system. If they were not taught how to think in school, then they have to learn the lessons on their own in the real world (which could take decades). Poor (government controlled) education is the problem, not our kids.

Scott W June 29, 2007 at 8:25 am

TS is is right, it's the previous generation indoctrinating kids with this nonsense. And, I might add, the previous generations gave us a host of massive government programs and regulations (Social Security, etc). While younger people may think these foolish things, older people actually acted on their foolishness!

Rolf Norfolk June 29, 2007 at 8:35 am

The Ludwig von Mises Institute published an interesting essay relevant to this, yesterday: http://www.mises.org/story/2620

Paul Zrimsek June 29, 2007 at 8:47 am

Ezra Klein is totally stoked about this poll: The kids agree Bush can't do anything right, and they agree that he should be in charge of their health care!

The kids are crazy, all right.

Methinks June 29, 2007 at 8:54 am

Count me as one more in agreement with TS.

I'm reminded of two recent reports from Seattle schools come to mind. Several schools were teaching first graders that private property is evil, everyone should live in exactly the same house and have same "stuff". The kids rebelled because it's counter-intuitive. One proclaimed, "I paid for it, it's mine!" After a few weeks of indoctrination, the kids were just docile and repeating these communist mantras. These were clearly drilled into their heads because the they sounded more like has-been leftist college professors instead of first graders.

The other story was of a taxpayer funded (of course) field trip for "under-privilaged", mostly black teenagers, to a conference where the kids were taught that white people are evil empirialists and the root of all the world's problems. It was hard to believe at first. However,the news channel ran clips of lecturers, one of whom (a middle aged white guy) was in the midst of explaining that white people committed genocide against the Indians, atrocities against Africans, that blacks in America can't get ahead because the whites will never let them, etc. I just hope Thomas Sowell didn't hear about this. The man already has dangerously high blood pressure.

ayn ryann June 29, 2007 at 9:45 am

I love how schools are the scapegoat of the moment. Schools only expose children to tools available in search of knowledge.The old saying you can lead a horse to water but can't make them drink comes to mind.It's up to the student to learn.
If the population at large does not want government schools and other programs why have they not been replaced with other systems? Vouchers anyone? Re-education camps?

shawn June 29, 2007 at 9:51 am

ms. rand…errr…ryann…why haven't there been changes yet? Do you remember that big teacher's union thing? Who're they interested in protecting?

The relatively ubiquitous private school system (which is paid for by people ALSO paying for public schools) says that people *are* attempting to replace the current system with another one…it's just that very few people can afford that option, and teachers' unions don't want to lose their monopoly, so they keep pushing to kill any voucher possibilities that come up.

Methinks June 29, 2007 at 10:27 am

Well, Mizz Ryan, charter schools are popping up all over the place. So are voucher programs. Their progress has been slow as they've had to battle against the vast power of the NEA. Every time a voucher program comes up for a vote, the NEA sets out to kill it. If a voucher program gets through anyway, the NEA tries to kill it again. Look at the battle going on to continue the voucher program in the worst schools in D.C. The parents are fighting to keep the program and the NEA is lobbying democrats to kill it.

Here in New York, we have a very successful charter school deep in the heart of Harlem. It's so successful that parents pack the auditorium on the day they hold the admission lottery, praying their child will get in. Parents whose child is randomly chosen rejoice as if they won a milliom bucks. Parents whose child is not so lucky bawl with the anguish of one whose child has been murdered (it's truly a sight to behold). Eliot Spitzer and some other democrats (it's all democrats here in NYC) want to open more charter schools to meet the plainly obvious demand. Paul Tudor Jones' Robin Hood Foundation raised a lot of private money from Hedge Fund managers and their friends to finance more charter schools in NYC. The teachers unions, and the politicians to whose campaigns they contribute, are fighting them tooth and nail and trying to close down the existing one.

Dig around a little bit and you'll find these stories are repeatedly around the country. Power to the people, right?

Jon June 29, 2007 at 10:56 am

I'm with Max, I'm quite sure that my generation is F&%$ing stupid. Alas, they value emotion over reason so logic just fails to work on them and I'm running out of ideas…

God help us all.

shawn June 29, 2007 at 12:27 pm

…as I heard on an old econtalk episode today: "the problem with the free market is the same problem with christianity: it's never been tried".

So we (my generation in general; as a 29-year-old newly awakened to the real world out of the subconscious socialist matrix, I count myself out of this finger-pointing crowd) keep railing against "the market", or "capitalism", when we're really railing against a limited socialist market, with glimmers of free market, hindered and crippled by legislators, or accusing free-marketers of what is really anarcho-capitalism, thereby setting up easy skittles to bowl over with a couple of simple examples.

Neither of these options are free market. Ms. Ryann's comment is in the same vein; she's complaining that nobody's doing it (and therefore, to her, it's not feasible, or it isn't what people really want, etc.), when the truth is that they simply are incapable of TRYING to do it, as Methinks pointed out, because the government/legislators are crippling any alternative options.

Jon…one thing I've found particularly interesting/helpful as I try to discuss these ideas with friends/coworkers is trying to point out some of Bastiat's 'unseen'…it's hard to do, because if it was easily seen, it wouldn't have been a problem in the first place, but there are examples (none of which I can think of off-hand at the moment). At the end of the recent EconTalk podcast with Bryan Caplan, he outlined some good ways to disagree with people (and hopefully get them thinking)…in particular, I found his words of "economists tend to disagree with that", coupled with a discussion of why we tend not to listen to "economics professionals", but DO tend to listen to other professionals–mechanics, doctors, etc.

shawn June 29, 2007 at 12:30 pm

, helpful…I'll be attempting to employ those as I keep fighting the windmills.

(sorry…wife got home and I got all confused…pressed 'post' a bit too quickly…) :)

Reach Upward June 29, 2007 at 12:42 pm

Doesn't every generation go through a youthful period of idealism, self absorbtion, inexperience, and naivete? I'm not sure that the current young generation is much different than past generations in that respect. They think that, of course nobody should be poor. Stupid adults should get the government to do more about it. And then they get their first real paycheck and ask, "What the heck is all this FICA and withholding stuff?! What kind of a rip off racket is that?!"

Of course, our government school gatekeepers are doing a good job of telling kids what to think rather than teaching them how to think. A recent study of U.S. 8th graders found that 72% cannot explain the historical significance of the Declaration of Independence. But most 8th graders can tell you how horrible global warming is.

In Utah where I live, we passed the nation's broadest based voucher law. The UEA (subsidiary of the NEA) has pulled out all the stops to kill it. Implementation of the law is on hold until a public referrendum vote in November. It will be interesting to see how many adults succumb to the fearmongering of those in favor of total government control of K-12 education.

ayn ryann June 29, 2007 at 12:54 pm

"Neither of these options are free market. Ms. Ryann's comment is in the same vein; she's complaining that nobody's doing it (and therefore, to her, it's not feasible, or it isn't what people really want, etc.), when the truth is that they simply are incapable of TRYING to do it, as Methinks pointed out, because the government/legislators are crippling any alternative options."

Now there is a pant load of double speak. The vast power of the "NEA" a terrorist organization of old ladies and gay males crushes the free market assisted by the parmilitary PTA.Kids excel if parents are interested and involved.People for the most part are satisfied with their schools.If the "free" market can deliver the same satisfaction fine. But to blame the schools and teachers is bunk.

We had the Edison Project here for a couple of years promised the moon, sky and stars delivered nothing.They trashed the buildings by diverting maintance funds to other areas.

Jon June 29, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Shawn, I've tried damn near everything. And the typical response is:

"Well you can't apply simplistic economic reasoning to a problem (pick an issue)this complicated."

or

"Well all you economists and economics students care about is wealth, you don't think about eh social issues."

I swear, it sounds EXACTLY like some of the speaches made by the collectivists in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

Rights are getting created out of thin air now and all of the rest of us that see the 'unseen' consequences and effects are the ones that are "greedy", or "selfish", or some other buzz term for us.

… *sigh*

Lee Kelly June 29, 2007 at 2:14 pm

Try the British education system if you want a proper socialist education, spiced with revisionist history and topped off with a large layer of relativism. Stir for 5 minutes and cook thoroughly for the perfect intellectually crippling brand of multiculturalism.

Jon June 29, 2007 at 2:37 pm

Well Lee, it can't be much worse than the tollerance laden bullshit that gets fed to those of us that made it through the public school system.

We learned there that FDR saved us from the great depression and that capitalism breeds poverty.

Methinks June 29, 2007 at 2:45 pm

"Try the British education system if you want a proper socialist education, spiced with revisionist history"

Holocaust? What Holocaust?

Awe, Jon, Ayn Rand just plagiarized all those speeches from the brave revolutionaries of her youth in mother Russia :) They were still recycling them for my generation. I've been asked if I'm afraid of "the will of the people" recently. You betchyer sweet ass I am! I fear NOTHING more than "the people".

I've been called a "perfect corporate tool." in one of these debates. I found that one to be more American in origin.

Methinks June 29, 2007 at 3:18 pm

"The vast power of the "NEA" a terrorist organization of old ladies and gay males crushes the free market assisted by the parmilitary PTA."

Why I'm shocked at your righteous hyperbole! Not to mention the un-PC accusation that all the male teachers are gay (NOW how will they pick up chicks at the bar?) and all the PTA are baby-killing troops! The commissars will have to revive the Fairness Doctrine to keep such subversive talk from derailing us from our march to social progress.

"Kids excel if parents are interested and involved.People for the most part are satisfied with their schools."

I happen to strongly agree with the first part of that and I've never seen any data to support the second part. Doesn't mean it doesn't exist but I've never seen it. The problem, of course, is not the good schools in good neighbourhoods. The problem is that the poor are stuck in neighbourhoods where the schools are crap and they have no way to escape them. Giving those people a choice of charter, private or public is a good idea. Let THEM choose.

"If the "free" market can deliver the same satisfaction fine. But to blame the schools and teachers is bunk."

Well, in pilot programs where the free market has been tried, the competing schools put pressure on the existing public schools and test scores got markedly better in the district – including the public schools. Not all charter schools have succeeded in markedly improving test scores, but charter schools can be closed down when they fail to deliver. Public schools can't be.

We don't have a pure democracy. We have a representative democracy and if our representatives receive enough money from special interest groups, they will usually do their bidding. The NEA is just another special interest group with deep pockets. It doesn't want charter schools and private schools because those schools are out of its sphere of control.

Christina June 29, 2007 at 3:21 pm

After a lifetime of arguing with people about the value of the free-market over collectivism I've found a few worthwile tricks.

1) Start with a shared presumption and work from there. Even if the person is a doctrinaire Stalinist there will be at least one vague goal you can agree on. For instance, happiness.

2) Don't try to steamroll the person with facts to embarrass them. When a person is defensive because they know that they really don't know as much as you, then you've already lost them.

3) Use more cleverly worded questions than statements. Let the person think that they arrived at the correct answer on their own.

4) Use humor and never let the other person think that you are angry with them simply for holding different beliefs. Make it clear that this is just a fun discussion, and nothing more.

5) After you've established a political rapor, occasionally email interesting articles or blog posts that reaffirm the point(s) you were making at the time of the discussion.

6) Sit back and watch as they realize how much more reasonable freedom is than tyranny. Expect them to start asking you who to vote for in upcoming elections.

Jon June 29, 2007 at 5:24 pm

"Awe, Jon, Ayn Rand just plagiarized all those speeches from the brave revolutionaries of her youth in mother Russia :) They were still recycling them for my generation. I've been asked if I'm afraid of "the will of the people" recently. You betchyer sweet ass I am! I fear NOTHING more than "the people".

I've been called a "perfect corporate tool." in one of these debates. I found that one to be more American in origin."
-MeThinks

Sir or Madam, I fear the people more than I fear a tyrant, at least with a tyrant I know who to revolt against.

I've been called many things: baby killer, I hate poor people, I hate single moms, hell apparently I hate everyone.

And yes I've read 'We The Living'. the Language used by the 'revolutionaries' is frighteningly close to what I hear now … from both sides of the isle.

methinks June 29, 2007 at 10:22 pm

Cynthia,

that's a great approach. I've always found that it works very well. Thank you for explaining it in such a useful way.

Jon,

Welcome to the hate-mongering counter-revulutionary enemies of the people club! I was officially labeled an "enemy of the people" as a kid, shortly after my parents submitted the application for permission to immigrate and we officially became dissidents. Best thing that ever happened to me!

M. Hodak June 30, 2007 at 1:39 am

Christina – Excellent points.

With regards to your third point, one question I often score well with is asking liberals to consider how one might combat greed without resorting to envy or violence. I would agree with them that, "yeah, maybe the poor wouldn't get as much from a market as they could via government (or whatever they think government should be doing), but how could we provide that without the guns aimed at us? How do we give government the power to aim the guns only at the people whose behavior we think should change, and not at us? Who controls which direction those guns get pointed at?"

It's a great thought experiment–one of the great softening-up tools in my inventory. Most liberals are not really that comfortable defending their ideas of "the good" based on brute force. The key is not to argue about what government should or shouldn't be doing, but just getting them to acknowledge that the essential distinction of government, what makes it different from any other institution in our society, is its monopoly on violence.

It's often well worth playing to their conspiracy theories about how the rich control everything, and suggest that a government of limited powers actually might protect us from the rich, rather than continue to chase the pipe dream of a vigorous government that acts rationally and competently to make things work.

OBrien June 30, 2007 at 8:16 am

…before we all commit the act of "sociology" based on this Times/CBS/MTV poll — take a critical look at how it was conducted (it's linked in the original NY Times article).

The 'poll' is a phony piece of survey-research.

They confess up front that they did not use a 'random sample' … but rather telephoned mostly persons that had participated in previous polling !

A serious scientific pollster would gag at such a procedure… because it negates the entire objective basis of statistical sampling — the RANDOM sample.

That poll also suffers other major procedural deficiencies.

Use tea-leaves & chicken-entrails — you'll get just as valid results as that nonsense "poll".

David P. Graf June 30, 2007 at 6:39 pm

I remember how pessimistic things seemed to be during Carter's term as President. The younger ones may not remember Carter's famous reference to "malaise". Reagan cured that with an optimistic style of leadership. So far, the only candidate I've seen who comes any where near that is Obama. I suspect that Thompson could do the same. That is, if he ever gets into the race.

Jon July 2, 2007 at 10:20 am

Oh come on Ron Paul would be a hoot. Dr. No!

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