Many young people who espouse socialism never actually define it, much less examine it. Some might wonder where these youth got these strange ideas. The answer is that it reflects the ideology of modern education, which focuses on developing opinions, rather than teaching facts.
This educational mindset comes from John Dewey, often referred to as “the father of progressive education.” Prof. Dewey taught that children would find their own reality through mental experimentation and developing opinions. Progressive educators favored these opinions over the accumulation of factual information.
The effect of such thinking is summed up by Dr. Everett Piper’s 2017 book Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth.
The student riots of that era [the sixties] led to three major, and harmful, developments: one, the purpose of college became less about learning and more about flattering the self-righteousness of students; two, the core curriculum of classics was gutted,… replaced by more “relevant” topics like women’s studies and various ethnic studies, all informed by cultural Marxism; and three, many of the campus radicals of the 1960s became tenured professors and transformed their academic departments in their image.
The current crop of young socialist officeholders is a product of this philosophy. Much media attention is focused on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but there are many others like her in local, state and national politics. In fairness, this intellectual laziness is not limited to the left. Many “libertarian” students also lack the ability to examine their pet theories critically.
The Tale of a “Successful” Federal Government Program
To begin, let us examine a program that young socialists point to as a success, all the while demanding significant changes to it.
When the guaranteed student loan program was instituted, its backers said that their only function was to guarantee loans so that the poor could go to college. Banks and other private lenders would make the actual loans. However, these loans contribute to a radical increase in tuition and other charges. CNBC reports that tuition rose 163% since 1988. The “financial aid office” helps students borrow all the money that they need to pay the increased tuition and fees. Most students are unfamiliar with credit and budgeting, and happily sign the loan papers before heading off to the weekend’s round of parties. Bureaucrats consume that money.
The American Enterprise Institute’s Mark J. Perry provides an example of how the program inflates budgets. The University of Michigan pays $10.6 million per year to fund its diversity office. Like many departments, it is filled with people who teach no one. In addition, university officials use more funds to add new buildings that make campuses more attractive but contribute little to education. The list of waste goes on. No one objects because nobody will have to pay for this abundance for years.
The result is that graduates often carry $100,000 or more in debt before they even start looking for an entry-level job. Such a burden can take decades to pay off.
The socialist solution is simple: forgive the massive debts. That “solution” really means shifting the burden to taxpayers. Socialists argue that forgiveness is a one-time necessity. The problem itself will be solved by their proposal to grant “free tuition.” Of course, that creates another injustice, taking money from taxpayers who earned it and distributing it to those who did not.
The Green New Deal
If ever there was a “feel good” proposal, it is the so-called Green New Deal. The document calls for plans “to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions,” “to create millions of good, high-wage jobs,” “to invest in the infrastructure,” and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century, and to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities [and other communities].”
There are dozens of potential contradictions within these goals. Building infrastructure can create greenhouse gas emissions. Developing sustainable industries will take time, far more than the twelve years that climate change alarmists say that we have left. Repairing the “historic oppression of indigenous peoples” will conflict with private property rights. All of these things require budgets and planning.
A Natural Result of Progressive Education
The Green New Deal’s proponents should calculate the costs of their plan. This does not appear to have happened. All we get are assertions that the program will be successful, and is worth whatever it will cost. Historically socialist experiments like this one have always not been worth the costs.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that facts – or even a noticeable lack of facts – will convert a socialist.
On the January 6, 2019 episode of 60 Minutes, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez admitted far more than she realized when she said, “I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.” Such a standard of morality has nothing to do with any defined moral system – it is all about opinions and emotions.
In his book, Democracy and Education, John Dewey stated, “Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, is the measure of educative growth something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked.” Dr. Dewey did not understand that there is no way to objectively measure the “quality of mental process.” Like the supporters of the Green New Deal, he had no idea what his revolution would cost.
Thanks to the legions of teachers who followed John Dewey’s admonitions, opinion has replaced facts at the many of the nation’s elementary schools, high schools, and universities. The learning of fact is treated with disdain; the ability to formulate an unsubstantiated opinion is rewarded. The currently budding crop of socialists shows the danger of such a system to the nation.