Don’t Schoolchildren in Colorado Deserve Better?


By Dr. Harold A. Black

I was going to entitle this article “Do you want these clowns teaching your children?” but I decided not to insult clowns. The Colorado teachers’ union which has 39,000 members passed a resolution condemning capitalism. The resolution asserts that capitalism exploits children, public schools, land, labor, and/or resources and called for “a new, equitable economic system.”

First, please tell me what “a new, equitable economic system” looks like and if there are examples. Surely, they can’t possibly mean China with its draconian policing, belligerent postering and its racism exemplified by the enslavement and genocide of its Muslim population, the Uyghurs. China does not tolerate dissension and those who oppose the regime simply disappear. If Colorado’s teachers were in China and issued a resolution against that government, they would now be in prison, or worse. China also is an embarrassment economically. Yes, I know the left heaps praise on it but consider that with a population twice that of the United States, its GDP is half that of ours. China has extreme rural poverty and forced millions to relocate to work in its factories. Is this the teacher’s “new, equitable economic system?” Certainly not. Again, Colorado teachers, where is an example of the system of your dreams? It simply does not exist. Every socialist country is a basket case with the “elites” exploiting the masses. Please Colorado teachers, enlighten me.

I guess that the teachers have forgotten that their own existence is due to capitalism which pays their salaries and funds their delusions. I feel for the residents of Colorado who must send their children to public schools. Those that are poor and those who cannot afford private schools or cannot home school are forced to put their kids in classrooms to be taught by ignorant teachers who themselves are uneducated.

While capitalism when juxtaposed with socialism always wins, the left conveniently ignores this fact. Compare East Germany with West Germany, North Korea with South Korea, Soviet socialism in Eastern Europe with Eastern Europe now and see what is the more equitable system. Capitalism has lifted countless millions from extreme poverty all over the world. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Phil Gramm (my economics tutor at the University of Georgia) and Amity Shlaes presents data showing that despite the myth of the robber barons, capitalism rather than exploiting the poor, enriched them and moved them to the middle class. They write “Between 1870 and 1900, America’s inflation-adjusted gross national product expanded by an unprecedented 233%. Though the population nearly doubled, real per capita GNP surged by 90%. Real wages of nonfarm employees grew by 53%, and life’s staples, such as food, clothing and shelter, became more plentiful and much cheaper. Food prices plummeted by 174% and the cost of textiles, fuel and home furnishings fell by 70%, 65% and 70%, respectively. The illiteracy rate fell by 46% and life expectancy rose by 12.5%. Infant mortality declined by 17%.” Further, they write “Today’s progressive rant that income inequality is an existential threat is unpersuasive and untrue. If we counted all transfer payments such as food stamps and refundable tax credits as income to their recipients and taxes paid as income lost to taxpayers—something the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t do—we’d find that income inequality is lower today than it was in 1947.” It should also be noted that although the left constantly lobbies for a higher minimum wage, the current minimum would put its recipients solidly middle class in most of the world. As Michael Munger writes If our system is so unfair and “exploitative,” then why are tens of thousands of people every year willing to risk their health, even their lives, to try to get here? It’s because even poor people are rich, by comparative standards.” The whining about capitalism exploiting people reminds me of the Bill Withers’ song that says “If it feels this good getting used, you just keep on using me until you use me up.”

I have never quite figured out why capitalism gets such a bad rap. Perhaps it is envy but more likely it is because of freedom. The left hates freedom for anyone but themselves. Milton Friedman once said that the reason so many intellectuals tend to the left is the desire to impose their ideas on others. It is obvious that those of us who love freedom and free markets need to make the moral case for capitalism. But as long as the left controls our education system and with the youth today not being intellectually aggressive, I fear for the future of our country.