Jonathan Chait

I Am Being Baited

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Jennifer Rubin has an interview with Arthur Brooks and Pete Wehner about their new book. It's a combination that seems to have been created for the express purpose of spurring me to write a blog item -- indeed, so much so that when I first saw it I wondered if it was some kind of trap to bait me -- and they don't disappoint. Here's one highly entertaining exchange:

Public schools (if we are lucky) teach about democracy but students rarely get any instruction in economics, let alone a defense of free market capitalism. Why is the former is considered essential and instruction in capitalism is not, or worse, is considered inappropriately partisan?

That's a great question, and we're not sure we know the answer to it.

Yeah, why don't schools indoctrinate students in our point of view? Nothing partisan about that! In case you're wondering if by capitalism they mean a system of private property ownership -- that is, something supported by left and right alike -- they make it very clear that they do not mean this. They define capitalism as mutually exclusive with the liberal agenda. (This is the whole theme of Brooks' last book.) The first question:

Why the book - does capitalism need more defending?

It sure does. But in particular, we felt it needs a better moral defense than we typically see. In the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008, capitalism as an economic system was under attack in ways that we hadn't seen in several generations.

So -- liberals are attacking capitalism, and schools should indoctrinate students in Ryan and Wehner's point of view. Come to think of it, why aren't students taught that lower marginal tax rates always lead to higher revenues? I'm pretty sure that's in the Constitution, too.

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