Education Community Needs a Cultural Revolution
- 5 January 2007 by Author 0 Comments
Education Community Needs a Cultural Revolution
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 01/05/07
“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.” Another insightful aphorism uttered by Albert Einstein.
Most frequently, we associate freedom with the liberties propounded by our Constitution, enumerated in the first 10 Amendments, and founded in divine principles embedded in our Declaration of Independence. But the freedoms of speech, assembly, and the bearing of arms are superficial freedoms if we don’t have the economic freedom to strive for our potential and pursue our pecuniary dreams. In other words, those freedoms we assume to be ours by legal recognition of a divine right are inextricably linked with the economic ability to exercise those rights. Freedom is to be practically pursued in all areas of life, including economic freedom, which is fundamental to the Lockean Creed upon which our Declaration of Independence is based; “life, liberty, and property.”
This is just a portion of the legacy left behind by Milton Friedman who passed away in November at the age of 93. Friedman was the Pied Piper of free-market principles of economics for the last quarter of the 20th Century, and his legacy will undoubtedly continue for centuries, because his economic principles were based on fundamental truths, the most preeminent being freedom itself.
The “grandmaster of free-market economic theory,” as The New York Times dubbed Friedman, was a man of towering eminence. He had a positive impact on the world surpassed by only a handful of individuals in the 20th century. He revered the individual and he saw the inherent flaws of centralized power of any kind. He advanced theoretically the concept that political freedom could only be accomplished with economic freedom and substantiated the theory with empirical data.
On the most compelling economics question of all, free markets or a command economy Friedman was of course resoundingly correct. Not only did the U.S. economy continue to grow prior to implementation of his free-market principles, but it burgeoned beyond expectation after the Reagan years when Friedman’s principles found footing in fiscal and monetary policy. While Friedman was promoting free-market economics, contemporary economists like Paul Samuelson repeatedly predicted that the Soviet Union would outgrow the United States!
Dr. Daniel J. Mitchell said of him, “Milton Friedman entered economics at a time when the profession, and the broader public policy community, favored more government control. In both his empirical work and his theoretical musings, Friedman displayed uncommon rigor and tremendous courage. His reward was to live long enough to see his ideas triumph. Friedman’s influence was profound. The tremendous economic achievements of Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher were due – in no small part – to Milton Friedman. And now Friedman’s influence can be seen in the free market reforms sweeping Eastern Europe.”
With the plethora of failed centrally-controlled economies around the world and the absence of personal and political freedom that has attended those doomed countries, it’s easy to see how Friedman’s necessary connection of economic and political freedom is so crucial. What is surprising, however, is how much of academia and our educational system seems to hold fast to failed economic theories and why socialistic principles predominate in the classroom. Even more perplexing considering the mass murders, genocide, oppression, and discrimination heaped upon those country’s citizens by the tyrants who were the perpetrators of those doomed economic models.
Perhaps I’m naïve, but I have supposed that the purpose of education, in large part, was to prepare young people to be the leaders of tomorrow; to be able to shoulder the civic, social, governmental, and economic responsibilities of our growing country. To learn from previous mistakes of societies of the past, and to provide a brighter future by inculcating our youth with the historical knowledge of centuries gone by. Yet even now, many educators, especially at the higher education level, seem stuck in the failed, oppressive, dictatorial, inhumane systems of Lenin, Castro, and Chavez. They are not just embraced ideologically, they are idealized. They would have us believe they’re enlightened, but based on their stubborn adherence to fallacious principles it’s extremely difficult to agree with their self-perception.
As illogical as it seems, perhaps the educational community is the last bastion of non-free-market principles and as such, is in need of a cultural revolution of sorts to embrace the freedom and liberty that only a free-market can provide. Friedman spent most of the last decade promoting the principles of the free-market system within education. He was a visionary in economic theory, and it appears he was a visionary for education as well.
As long as much of the American educational community remains entrenched in the failed tyrannies of oppression and the false economic principles upon which their markets were based, our children will continue to fall farther behind the rest of the world in academic performance and preparedness for the future. After all, how can our children learn about a brighter future from teachers who are stuck in failed theories of the past?
Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at email@example.com.