Imagine the privilege of attending Harvard, arriving in your first economics class and then being taught economic theory that you knew was wrong. You’d be discouraged, at the very least. However, that’s exactly what you should expect. Most of today’s economics professors teach more about market manipulation through Keynesian theories than they do about sound and simple economic laws. As a recent article in Mises Daily noted, ” the laws of supply and demand are just that — laws.”
Be encouraged faithful readers. If you’ve only read one or two entries from our current study on economics, you’re already ahead of one group of Harvard discontents. When their professor presented a position that revealed problems with minimum wage litigation, the students protested by walking out and joining the local Wall Street occupation.
I wanted to share the whole letter with you because it highlights the brainwashing that has occurred in our nation. These young students have been programmed to consider free-markets as dangerous and market manipulation as equitable. As we have studied, this is far from the truth. However, rather than continuing on by discussing what these students did and said, we can go one better. They actually drafted a letter of protest that we can read. I’ll include it here in its entirety, just in case it is later removed from their site. For now, it can be found on the Harvard Political Review site. The Harvard Crimson has an interesting article, along with some worth while comments, that might prove beneficial as well. As always, read with discernment.
After reading this letter, and perhaps the Harvard article linked above, I would strongly urge readers to go to the Mises article by Eric Phillips, entitled “Economic Law vs. Occupy Wall Street.” The clarity brought forth in the contrast and illumination of applicable economic laws is clearly worth your effort. By doing so, you’ll be several steps ahead of these Harvard students, if you’re not already. In fact, the Mises article will do you far more good, read alone, than any of what follows here. If you’re limited on time, I’d encourage you to read Phillips rather than the letter of protest and my offerings.
The following letter was sent to Greg Mankiw by the organizers of today’s Economics 10 walkout.
Wednesday November 2, 2011
Dear Professor Mankiw—
Today, we are walking out of your class, Economics 10, in order to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course. We are deeply concerned about the way that this bias affects students, the University, and our greater society.
As Harvard undergraduates, we enrolled in Economics 10 hoping to gain a broad and introductory foundation of economic theory that would assist us in our various intellectual pursuits and diverse disciplines, which range from Economics, to Government, to Environmental Sciences and Public Policy, and beyond. Instead, we found a course that espouses a specific—and limited—view of economics that we believe perpetuates problematic and inefficient systems of economic inequality in our society today.
A legitimate academic study of economics must include a critical discussion of both the benefits and flaws of different economic simplifying models. As your class does not include primary sources and rarely features articles from academic journals, we have very little access to alternative approaches to economics. There is no justification for presenting Adam Smith’s economic theories as more fundamental or basic than, for example, Keynesian theory.
Care in presenting an unbiased perspective on economics is particularly important for an introductory course of 700 students that nominally provides a sound foundation for further study in economics. Many Harvard students do not have the ability to opt out of Economics 10. This class is required for Economics and Environmental Science and Public Policy concentrators, while Social Studies concentrators must take an introductory economics course—and the only other eligible class, Professor Steven Margolin’s class Critical Perspectives on Economics, is only offered every other year (and not this year). Many other students simply desire an analytic understanding of economics as part of a quality liberal arts education. Furthermore, Economics 10 makes it difficult for subsequent economics courses to teach effectively as it offers only one heavily skewed perspective rather than a solid grounding on which other courses can expand. Students should not be expected to avoid this class—or the whole discipline of economics—as a method of expressing discontent.
Harvard graduates play major roles in the financial institutions and in shaping public policy around the world. If Harvard fails to equip its students with a broad and critical understanding of economics, their actions are likely to harm the global financial system. The last five years of economic turmoil have been proof enough of this.
We are walking out today to join a Boston-wide march protesting the corporatization of higher education as part of the global Occupy movement. Since the biased nature of Economics 10 contributes to and symbolizes the increasing economic inequality in America, we are walking out of your class today both to protest your inadequate discussion of basic economic theory and to lend our support to a movement that is changing American discourse on economic injustice. Professor Mankiw, we ask that you take our concerns and our walk-out seriously.
Concerned students of Economics 10
I can’t help but think of what the dean of my school once said, “An education is about the only thing people are willing to pay for and not get.” In this case, even the education they’ll get is fraught with liberal bias. But even here, where Marxism is openly taught as a viable alternative, the teaching of simple laws of economics will not be tolerated by some of the student body. Is the tail attempting to wag the dog?
What we see here epitomizes the problems we’ve already identified in the OWS movement. They see the problems, but they simply don’t understand the underlying foundation that these problems are built upon. And, without being able to identify the root, we can’t possibly fix the problem. Instead, they get the idea that the problems can be legislated away. Eventually, like repeatedly throwing antibiotics at an infection, it builds up some sort of resistance to your efforts. It will morph and become a greater threat. Legislation is not the answer. Naturally occurring free-market laws are. These students would do well to humble themselves and learn rather than stand in judgment over a professor that is obviously their superior in regard to economic law, even if he is Keynesian and Harvard is a bastion of leftism. What a great irony. I guess he’s just not Keynesian enough for these arrogant children.