by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Economist Dominick T. Armentano has posted a spirited commentary on the Independent Institute’s website entitled “Economic Ignorance, on the Left and Right“:
As someone who taught college economics for 30 years, I assert that the current level of economic understanding is stunningly low, the worst I’ve ever seen.
Take the fossil fuel/climate change debate.
Contrary to the media spin, the crucial issue here is economics and not the data bickering of the climate scientists. The fact remains that coal, oil and natural gas are far cheaper and more reliable in dollar terms than wind and solar for generating power. Any forced substitution of wind and solar for fossil fuels, even at the margin, would raise the cost and price of just about everything and make us all poorer.
The only rationale provided for radical climate change policy is that an increase in carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere will, allegedly, lead to some global warming.
Some climate scientists accept that connection and some don’t; some think modest warming would be good; some don’t.
What we do know with reasonable certainty, however, is that carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen only from .03 percent to .04 percent in more than 150 years; in the same period, the average temperature has increased (are you ready?) less than one degree Celsius. And the Obama administration (and Robert Redford) assert that this is the most important issue facing humanity? Not likely….
Armentano goes on to provide additional examples of economic ignorance on the left, including support for raising the minimum wage and the popularity of Bernie Sanders, before turning his attention to the right:
But let’s not let the Republicans and their supporters off the economic-ignorance hook either.
All the Republican presidential candidates, and almost all of their potential supporters, hold the blatantly contradictory notion that the federal budget can be balanced and the national debt can be reduced while America maintains and, indeed, expands its military presence throughout the globe.
This is economically impossible and has never been accomplished in the history of the world….
Yet they continue to promise that, if elected, they will balance budgets and lower debt while (at the same time) they vote to fund a network of greedy military contractors and support hundreds of military bases abroad.
The Federal Reserve and its bankster friends have been inflating the money supply (“quantitative easing”) and keeping interest rates at near zero since 2009. That this policy has robbed seniors of their interest income and led to the creation of a massive “asset bubble” (in homes, stocks and bonds) that must eventually fall to Earth is almost beyond question; the only question is when.
Yet most Americans are blissfully ignorant of how financial markets really work and what reality has in store for them when the monetary madness ends.
Economic ignorance, like chickens, always comes home to roost.