August 7, 2022

The right way to Teach Austrian Economics in the Current Political Atmosphere

As the US political landscape changes rapidly and college economics departments become increasingly aggressive, the way we teach free-market economics will change

Considering that retiring from Frostburg Condition University in Maryland, You will find reflected not only on my more than three decades of teaching university economics in numerous places, but also on how to best teach economics.

This is important, as millions of students in college and senior high school take economics  yet often times are presented a fake or misleading picture associated with what economics really is.

The so-called comeback of Keynesian economics throughout the 2008 meltdown and its aftermath, along with the rise of intensifying economists like Paul Krugman and Thomas Piketty, has  caused untold damage. Individuals are being told that raw condition power is the key to a productive economy, and politicians are usually anxiously putting those theories into practice.

Moreover, academic economics is being further corrupted by hard-left politics, whose invasion from the academy exploded after the passing away of George Floyd two years ago. It no longer issues what one does within the classroom as long one’s politics are in line with the politics officers in university management with the official title of Director of Diversity plus Inclusion. Any deviation in the standard narrative is not tolerated.   Higher education has become a totalitarian minefield.

So , how does one teach economics in this brave new world by which political narratives are treasured above the truth? Is it even possible anymore?

The short answer will be yes, but I do not really know how long it will be prior to that no longer is the case. First, we must remember that future economics professors will be carrying out their doctoral studies in institutions that openly state free markets are hurtful and worse, and students that believe otherwise can either be denied entrance to graduate school or dismissed from their programs need to their free-market viewpoints be exposed.

While market-oriented programs still exist, they are under fire from  left-wing faculty members and administrators, and those of us who have been involved with higher education for many years know that leftist academics do not fight fair  nor are  honest brokers. For example , the economics department at George Mason College has produced two Nobel winners, yet the department  is constantly under fire through leftist faculty   that would love nothing more than to find the entire program shut down. Academic achievement, even at the maximum levels, no longer matters in  higher education.

Moreover, in my two decades at Frostburg State, I witnessed the  moral   shift in how the noneconomic academic community regard economics. Although  theologian Carl Trueman of Grove City College was  explaining   why the school today rejects evangelical Christianity, his analysis also factors to what is happening with  economics and how it is taught:

Our postmodern world sees all claims to truth as bids for power, all stable categories as manipulative— and the task of the academy is to catechize students into this orthodoxy. By definition, such a globe rejects any notion that will scholarly canons, assumptions, and methods can be separated from moral convictions and outcomes.

A search of social media, progressive politicians’  latest utterings, and a sampling of Krugman’s  columns can find all of the above focused on economic thinking, and especially an economics built from what Ludwig von Mises called  wertfreiheit , or value-free evaluation. One of the hard lessons I had formed to learn in my thirty-plus years of being on college function was that every English, history, and philosophy professor understood infinitely more about economics than I ever could (they see economists as shills for corporations), and they also discover every transaction, every cost, and  every aspect of creation as strictly  moral   choices .

It does not function to reason with people like this about the details of a price program, since everyone knows that prices are arbitrary numbers developed by profit-seeking capitalists seeking to unjustly rob the community. (The just time I have seen progressives insist that markets work solely on independent entities of supply and requirement is their insistence that  Joe Biden’s actions have had absolutely no effect upon gas prices. )

Unfortunately, the penchant to get turning economics into woke moral theater is infecting economics departments, too, since the semiconservative nature of many departments  is being exchanged intended for leftist domination . Moreover,   one can rely on this trend continuing , as leftists hire just leftists, and as that procedure continues, graduate programs within economics will reflect the particular hard-left viewpoints.

This trend will accelerate over time, and young people who else like me have come to deeply appreciate the economic way of thinking will dsicover limited opportunities to join the economics professorate. For now, there are programs and departments (found usually in the less-than-elite institutions) that will accommodate free-market-oriented teaching, but at least some of those will either be transformed into leftist playgrounds or disappear entirely.

Such evaluation brings me back to the original issue of how we should  present economics. Because numerous academic doors are closing to free-market thinking, the significance of outfits like the  Mises Institute   is going to increase. (No, this is simply not a fundraising letter, but you can give to the institute if you want. )

The reasons are many. First, and most essential, the Mises Institute includes a number of excellent scholars readily available who are on higher education function or are retired from college teaching. Second, they have a large and accessible library of scholarship. Third, it provides a master’s degree within Austrian economics that is academically rigorous and provides an excellent basis for approaching economic thought.

This is not simply a pitch for my company. Things are changing quickly in higher education, which has been one of the most important ways to present economic thinking— but it is not the only way. Many of us have learned about the Austrian school through means besides formal education. For example , while I have a PhD  in economics, my only formal contact with Austrian economics was in a History of Economic Thought class. Everything else I have learned through the Mises Institute or the Base for Economic Education. (William H. Peterson introduced me to Ludwig von Mises and others through articles from  The Freeman . )

There are a few higher education programs teaching the particular Austrian school, including from Grove City College, but not many, and the opportunities to educate in this way will become increasingly restricted. However , one often discovers best by pursuing understanding independently, and there are many private resources available for those who wish to learn economics— and those that will wish to participate in presenting it.

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