David Strom

William Ross Wallace famously declared in a poem extolling the virtues of motherhood that "the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world."

The point is clear enough: shaping the moral and intellectual beliefs of the next generation determines what kind of future we face.

In this age of near-universal government-run education, one of the most important hands that rocks the cradle is the public school. And if reports from Europe are any indication for what the future of public education holds for America, there is much to worry about.

In an article published in Foreign Policy Stephen Theil (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4095) exposes the dangerous anti-capitalist indoctrination that students in France and Germany endure in the public schools. It is well worth a read.

Free markets are portrayed in European textbooks as "savage, unhealthy, and immoral," and Theil describes the curriculum as a "diet of prejudice and bias" against capitalism. That prejudice is being reflected in popular attitudes, with German citizens supporting socialist ideals (47% respond favorably to socialism), and only 36% of the French supporting free markets.

French and German textbooks are larded with anti-capitalist propaganda, even linking prosperity to failing health. "Economic growth imposes a hectic form of life, producing overwork, stress, nervous depression, cardiovascular disease, and, according to some, even the development of cancer" asserts one French textbook.

One wonders what a zero-sum economic paradise would look like? History suggests it would not mirror the Garden of Eden. In point of fact, a zero-sum economic world that rejected economic growth would be a Malthusian nightmare.

Theil’s study of European and American textbooks does contain a ray of hope: while fewer than half of American students are taught economics, the education they do get is pretty firmly grounded in classical economics, not polemics against the market.

Though the news is encouraging, suggesting that American exceptionalism is still alive, the current political debate in the United States is not exactly encouraging. Both John Edwards, and to a certain extent Mike Huckabee are tapping into a growing economic anxiety here in the United States that is sure to be picked up by the other Presidential candidates and members of Congress.


David Strom

David Strom is the President of the Minnesota Free Market Institute. He hosts a weekly radio show on AM-1280 "The Patriot" in Minneapolis-St. Paul, available on podcast at Townhall.com.

Be the first to read David Strom's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.