Unexacting secondary schools seed college campuses with students spoiled by unearned flattery. They bring to college a complacent sense of entitlement. Writing in National Review, Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute explains “the political consequences of campus sloth.” Idleness breeds extremism and “performative rebellion” among students who, “basting in a progressive hothouse,” are “increasingly exempted from meaningful expectations of rigor.” This is partly because campuses have burgeoning therapeutic bureaucracies that manufacture fragility by fretting about students’ serenity.
Performative bullying and wokeness flourish when, Hess says, “students view admission to elite universities as the finish line instead of the starting gate.” Hess says, “We’ve normalized a college culture in which students believe that 20 or 25 hours of class and study time combined constitutes a full week.” Besides, why study when grade inflation makes ersatz excellence so abundant? Harvard’s average GPA was 3.0 in 1967, but 3.8 in 2022. At Yale last year, more than 80 percent of students in the proliferating “studies” (e.g., women’s studies; gender and sexuality studies; African American studies; ethnicity, race and migration studies) got semester grades of A. In math, engineering and economics (lots of “quantitative” courses), 55 percent or less got A’s.
We’re all for “families” now—and that’s the justification for robbing the paychecks of productive childless taxpayers and rerouting their earnings to nonworking parents. This bill would further discourage work, leaving more parents and children dependent on government largess. It’s of a piece with the Republican lurch toward bills that micromanage industrial policy or penalize the free market. Today’s MAGA populism amounts to little more than warmed-over big-government Rockefeller Republicanism.
When I first started paying close attention, the U.S. was essentially carrying a credit card balance of 40 percent of America’s gross domestic product (GDP). Today, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), that balance hovers around 98 percent. Imagine credit card debt equal to your yearly salary, interest costs piling up, and more inevitable debt coming your way. Congress doesn’t seem to mind, which partly explains why even optimistic scenarios project the debt to soar to a staggering 180 percent within 30 years.
Economic historians are very pragmatic economists. They are willing to consider wide ranges of causes of growth, from natural resources to even more vague concepts like culture. If protectionism was a significant driver of US industrialization, they wouldn’t hide from it
Economic historians reject tariffs as a significant driver of the industrial revolution because the evidence strongly suggests this is not the case. Not because they have an unwavering devotion to theory.