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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Should Faith-Based Economics Be Taught in Schools?

Marxist central planning is being taught as if it were science.

USA Today reports that 16 states have laws encouraging public school science teachers to teach Intelligent Design, arguably a form of creationism, along with evolution. Most scientists oppose these laws.

Central Planning, the New Religion

Though teaching by debate is arguably the best form of teaching, the opposing scientists have a point. Scientific ideas are, or at least are supposed to be, based on elaborate testing of theories, tentatively accepting those theories that are in accord with facts, while tentatively rejecting those which do not. In contrast, religion depends on faith – not facts.

In part for this reason, in the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover case, U.S. District Judge John Jones forbid Dover (PA) public school science classes from teaching Intelligent Design. Jones ruled that Intelligent Design is religion, not science, thus crossing the constitutional separation of church and state. Unlike science, faith-based explanations are not tentative. Sensible people do not subject God to peer review by those of different faiths. Rather we keep our faith even when life tests it.

The approach of the annual May Day celebrations reminds me that the Obama administration, the Trump administration, and many public universities have eroded the separation of church and state by embracing variations of a certain economic faith – Marxist central planning – as if it were science.

In the Near Future?

All of which leads me to wonder whether, in 2021, we might see the following news story:

Court Rules Economic Design Is Religion; can’t be taught in public schools.

U.S. District Judge John Jones has ruled that Economic Design, called ED by its supporters, is not a science since it has not survived scientific testing and is instead faith-based. Accordingly, the ED curriculum recently approved by the Washington D.C. School Board can no longer be taught in social studies classes since this would violate the constitutional separation of church and state. The Court left open the question of whether ED could remain in philosophy and religion elective courses.

Economic Design is a politically acceptable term for traditional Marxist theory. In a highly detailed, 149-page opinion with more than four hundred footnotes from Economics journals, Judge Jones explicitly detailed links between the two. Jones further documented that all factually verifiable Marxist predictions failed to come true; thus Economic Design is “a faith like Catholicism or Hinduism, rather than a science like Economics or Physics.”

Jones pointed out that Marx and Lenin predicted that socialist regimes would be humane, whereas, in reality, they murdered more than 80 million of their own citizens and waged wars of expansion abroad. Marx and Lenin, as well as former President Donald Trump and current President Elizabeth Warren, predicted that nations dependent on trade would suffer exploitation when, in fact, economic analyses find that trade-dependent nations like the U.S. and Japan are far wealthier and freer than self-sufficient nations like North Korea and Cuba.  

“Every successful economy is based on free markets,” wrote Judge Jones, “and if public schools fail to teach students that, graduates will wind up unproductive, unemployed, and unable to compete with economically literate graduates from other nations.” Jones went on to detail the links between economic and political freedom, noting that “where central authorities manage the economy, their opponents are starved into submission.”

Warren administration Attorney General Harris sided with the Washington D.C. school board, maintaining that prosperity cannot exist without a supreme intelligence distributing and redistributing resources. “How could the automobile headlight have evolved without an intelligent Economic Designer planning and bringing together the individual components?” Harris asked. “Free markets could not do that, so we need to teach our children to revere the Public Economic Designer, who may or may not be a deity.”

ED advocates gain support from a network of far left institutions including the Rockefeller Foundation, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), and most colleges and universities. EPI spokesperson and filmmaker Michael Moore insists that Economic Design explains gaps in the free market accounting record since “there’s so much we still don’t know about the functioning of the economy.” Resident Scholar Noam Chomsky adds that conventional Economics scholarly journals “have established hegemony over economic discourse, which permits them to ignore the success of ED in places like Zimbabwe and Venezuela.”

In contrast, the National Council of Teachers of Economics hailed Judge Jones’ ruling.  NCTE President Dick Armey claims that “ED stands for Economic Dysfunction. If there’s anything that professional economists agree on, it’s that ED would take us right back to the economic Stone Age, the 1970s.”

President Warren admitted that her stimulus plan embraced elements of ED, and insisted that public schools be free to “teach the controversy.” Warren added that even if ED theory had imperfections, “it still has much to teach conventional economics in such areas as health care.”

  • Robert Maranto, PhD, is the 21st Century Chair in Leadership in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.