Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Left & Economic Illiteracy

This from the Volokh Conspiracy on the "startling" lack of economic literacy as one moves further to the left along the political spectrum:

Some of the results in this new article by Zeljka Buturovic and Dan Klein in Econ Journal Watch (a peer-reviewed journal of economics) are startling:

◦ 67% of self-described Progressives believe that restrictions on housing development (i.e., regulations that reduce the supply of housing) do not make housing less affordable.

◦ 51% believe that mandatory licensing of professionals (i.e., reducing the supply of professionals) doesn’t increase the cost of professional services.

◦ Perhaps most amazing, 79% of self-described Progressive believe that rent control (i.e., price controls) does not lead to housing shortages.

Note that the questions here are not whether the benefits of these policies might outweigh the costs, but the basic economic effects of these policies. Those identifying as “libertarian” and “very conservative” were the most knowledgeable about basic economics. Those identifying as “Progressive” and “Liberal” were the worst.

I wrote in a post below about a recent poll showing that a significant percentage of young Americans are coming out of our schools imbued with a positive view of socialism and a negative view of capitalism. The above study described by the Volokh Conspiracy certainly goes a long way to further explaining those results. Only a lack of a fundamental grasp of basic economic reality can possibly explain the economic fantasies and arrogance of the socialist left. And as I wrote in What In The World Are They Teaching Our Children:

I have long thought that no child should graduate from high school without an understanding of free market economics, basic accounting and business law. It would seem we are a long way indeed from that reality.

I think that we fail to teach those topics at fundamental, long term risk to our nation.


OBloodyHell said...

> I think that we fail to teach those topics at fundamental, long term risk to our nation.

I fully concur, but, when our teachers as a class can't or won't teach literacy, numeracy, and basic critical thinking skills -- how are we going to teach more advanced notions?

KG said...

Part of the problem too, is that teachers are now too uninformed to realise just how little they themselves know.