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ECONOMICS TEACHER

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ThisIsWhyYoureWrong Posted: Wed, Aug 1 2012 10:31 AM

My economics teacher is a whole sale idiot. We've gotten into several little scuffles over the course of class and I think it's fair to say that there is a mutual hatred between the two of us.  I knew I was in for a doozy when on the first day he said that he'd earned his masters in economics, had devoted his entire life to the profession, and so would be trying his best to dumb things down for us college level students so as not to confuse us.  Can you beleive that shit!

Scuffle #1 happend over the "phillips curve".  The very first lesson we learned was the fucking phillips curve.  (which states that theres a relationship between the level of inflation and unemployment. Basicly, the higher the inflation, the lower unemployment, and vice versa.)  THIS WAS THE VERY FIRST THING HE TAUGHT.  As if all economic knowledge branches off of this one ultimate truth.  I simply pointed out that hadn't Bernanke been pursueing a fairly aggresive inflationary monetary policy these last 4 years, and yet our unemployment has remained really high?  I asked it to him like a question, in a super respectful way.  He got all butt hurt and launched into some incoherant tyrade that made absolutely zero sense what so ever.  Basicly using the ol' he's just not inflating enough argument.  Anyway, he's the one with degree, so I guess I should defer to his judgement, but opening the class up with something like the phillips curve seems to me to be a bit ridiculous, considering the numerous times throughout history (including the present) when the "phillips curve" has mysteriously stopped applying.  The word "stagflation", or maybe just "the 1970s" should have thrown the phillips curve in the trash can.  It's true, that an expansion of the money supply will indeed create a temporary boom and have a possitive effect on unemployment, but this has never held in the long term.  He made no mention of this what so ever!  He just simply stated it as if it was somekind of universal well known economic law.  More inflation = More employment.  Anyway, we've had so many little scuffles, and I did not intend to take that long just on that one lol that it'd be impossible to elaborate on them all.  Basicly, this guy is an idiot.  He's the definition of a one side of the coin, broken window type keynesian.  Mainstream economics is a joke.  It hurts my brain to sit in class and watch these kids absord this trash like it's indespensible information.  The way this guy touts government spending is fucking appalling too.  His end-all-argument-example of government spending increasing aggregate demand, was WORLD WAR II.  The classic, readily disproved, insanely illogical world war 2 prosperity bit.  He threw a a line graph of GDP and unemployment up on the projector, showing the huge increase that occured when we entered world war 2 as if that was all the explanation needed.  I coulda went to town on his ass right there.  He's lucky that he controls my grades, or I wouldn't let him off so easy.  I wanted to be like, "oh, so you expect us to beleive, that a huge portion of the work force being shipped overseas, to be replaced by a bunch of largely unskilled women, in addition an enormous amount of resources being shifted to military use, somehow made our country MORE productive and prosperous?  Yeah the fuck right.  There was rationing during world war 2 you cunt.  I wanted to ask him what that GDP figure would look like if it was itemized between government and private expenditures.  Sometimes I wish I had never stumbled upon the mises institute.  It would have saved me a huge amount of frustration.  I could just sit in my chair and zone out like all the rest of the students, and regurritate information for the tests.  There have been a few questions on tests already, where I knew what that the correct answer, and the answer he was looking for were two differant choices.  How am I supposed to act in those situations?  Anyway, I've respectfully challenged him on quite a few things so far, and intend to do so more in the future.  On this extra assignment he gave us, we had to come up with a creative way to present the class syllabus, and I took that opportunity to tack a detailed explanation of the austrian business cycle to the end of it.  On the first page, he put 3 pictures of economists that were supposedly the major players in the differant schools of economic thought.  1. Adam Smith, 2. John Maynard Keynes, 3. Milton Friedman.  I tacked on F A Hayeks picture as a fourth one.  Which brings up another point... It pisses me off that Milton Friedman is viewed in the mainstream as this crazy ol' cooky free market guy who had all these radical fringe beleifs, and real free market guys are pretended to not even exist.  The reality of it, in my opinion, is that Milton Friedman actually contributed very few original ideas to economics.  He mainly just rehashed, water downed, and popularized other people's.  Not to take away from his career or anything,  he did serve a huge function in publicizing and reenergizing the debate, much more successfully than the more ideological thinkers, but as far as coming up with new and original theories?  I don't think so.  I'd put Hayek's, or Mises' picture up there waaayyyy before I'd put Milton Friedman's.  I just don't get how any self respecting human being could sleep at night while teaching economics the way this guy does.  I could elaborate on the various retarded things he's said almost indeffinately.  But, in the hopes that someone might actually read this thing in it's entirety, I'm going to stop now.  I really needed to just get some of that stuff off my chest before I threw a chair or text book at the guy in a future class.  

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xahrx replied on Wed, Aug 1 2012 10:51 AM

You could find an alternative way of getting to him.  For example, one I missed when I was in college, was to write to the most Austrian or Libertarian friendly campus paper and express your views and steer people to alternative resources.  I had a similar experience in college in a history class.  The prof began his lecture on the Great Depression by saying, "The Great Depression was caused by an over production of nonperishable goods by greedy capitalists..."

A couple years later I had a friend who it turned out worked for the 'conservative' paper on campus, and he too had taken the same course with the same prof, and written a few articles on the one sided nature of the lecture and offered a few alternative theories.  It was short obviously and in the editorial section where they regularly bitched about the liberal bias on campus, but it served it's purpose.

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I dont read, takes to much time.  I have Siri on my ipad read it too me at an incredibly fast pace so i made it through the whole thing.

haha im sorry dude.  Ive had to sit through a lot of that type of crap. I tried to figure out why rothbard is wrong in suggesting a general sales tax isnt a forward tax to my econ professor and he was just shocked like he had never heard of such a thing.  I mean if consumers are just willing to pay a 7% without causing a shortage why not 20% 100% OR 10000% sales tax.  he was just like "no no no, sales tax isnt.... its 7% and consumers pay it."  We ended the discussion with 'if you continue taking econ class you will learn that consumers end up paying every tax.'  Haha ya ok.

Luckily i think he really enjoys teaching and i believe he changed up a lot of his answers on the tests because i challenged him so many times (meaning he would changed the wording up in a way so that we both agree on what the correct answer would be.)

ive got another econ class at the end of the month.  Hopefully i dont get someone like your irrational teacher that cant even explain his theory when a decent point is made.

Have you taken political science yet?  Just wait till they teach you economic policy without knowing the first thing about economics.

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From Wikipedia on the Phillips Curve.

Since 1974 seven Nobel Prizes have been given for work critical of the Phillips curve. Some of this criticism is based on the United States' experience during the 1970s, which had periods of high unemployment and high inflation at the same time. The authors receiving those prizes include Thomas Sargent, Christopher Sims, Edmund Phelps, Edward Prescott, Robert A. Mundell, Robert E. Lucas, Milton Friedman, and F.A. Hayek

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Wheylous replied on Wed, Aug 1 2012 12:06 PM

Have you taken political science yet?  Just wait till they teach you economic policy without knowing the first thing about economics.

I think I would puke. I mean, even before I discovered the field of economics, I would wonder really hard in my AP Government and Politics class how the heck "an economy overheats" and the government needs to "hold it back" - whaaaa?

 

About the OP - paragraphs would help, but I guess that the lack makes your emotion just that more effective.

Interestingly enough, now that I think about it my AP Econ class also started with the Phillips Curve. In micro. I have no idea why. It seems very stupid to me. Well, best of luck to you and I hope you can keep your head clear of confirmation bias as you continue studying Austrian Econ alongside the mainstream.

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Wheylous replied on Wed, Aug 1 2012 12:06 PM

[deleted]

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David B replied on Wed, Aug 1 2012 3:15 PM

Love the post.  

Sorry the experience is so rough.  Some observations.

Challenging the big dog in his house is going to necessarily result in a "slap down".  It's his fiefdom, he must control it, and he's most likely going to resist strongly if he's made to look like an idiot in public.  If he doesn't know his subject matter how's he supposed to teach it.  Oddly, many times someone can be required to teach material in a way he doesn't even agree with.  So part of his frustration may in fact be with the fact that it is so obtuse.

Austrian Economics is so simple and so dead obvious, and so powerful, it wins.  It has to, because it works and it's right.  My suggestion would be to engage in some non-public dialog with him, if you wish to actually change his views.  Asking him to explain things that your expected to take at face value would put him in a horrible bind in the classroom environment, especially if there are no simple, logical, or even accurate explanations.  To reach your fellow students, I like the idea of publishing editorial rebuttals in a public forum and provide links to mises.org that guide them to other resources. 

We all have this innate desire to challenge authority and hypocrisy and to right the wrongs (in terms of either truth or justice), but at the end of the day if you wish to reach either the students or him, there may be less confrontational ways to achieve both.  I like Lao Tzu's concept of wu wei.

Good Luck.

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Neodoxy replied on Wed, Aug 1 2012 3:17 PM
  1. A failure to understand economics infests all political theory, indeed its practically impossible to understand political theory without an understanding of economics, as the methodological individualism of economics you can scarcely understand human motivation. For instance an understanding of individualism destroys democracy.
  2. It's mainstream economics, what can you do? It sounds like he hasn't even gotten the memo about basic changes in economics from some of what you said.
  3. The Phillips curve is perfectly correct under certain situations, you can't argue against it, Mises even admitted that it was the case. Just as with most economic relationships, it is true under certain situations, less so under others.
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William replied on Wed, Aug 1 2012 3:22 PM

Changed the name of thread to just: ECONOMICS TEACHER

and deleted the whole choking the teacher part.

"I am not an ego along with other egos, but the sole ego: I am unique. Hence my wants too are unique, and my deeds; in short, everything about me is unique" Max Stirner
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Neodoxy replied on Wed, Aug 1 2012 3:30 PM

^

:)

Good man

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David B replied on Wed, Aug 1 2012 3:43 PM

Another simple point.  I would simply ask wouldn't the unequal distribution of the new money alter prices (upward pressure) unevenly?  

Wouldn't those alterations of prices cause supply/demand curve distortions making certain types of production to appear to be profitable when they aren't?  Wouldn't the investment in these inefficient production efforts end up failing?  Wouldn't the new money eventually drive up the costs of the factors of production?  I'd finish with, it seems to me that the new money would end up causing a large amount of productive endeavors which will underestimate it's costs, and thus lose money.

I'd turn around and offer the housing bubble as an example.  Look for others.

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Im going to 10th grade. Knowing the truth, and having to endure school for 6 more years is going to be a pain.

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Neodoxy replied on Wed, Aug 1 2012 3:48 PM

@David B

That's more or less Austrian Business Cycle Theory.

EDIT

On Milton Friedman, I think it's important to note that most ideas which make up modern economics have been around since 1840 with the classical economists.

Friedman did a lot of stuff with monetary theory, an idea of stable currency, and most importantly he was the first to really map out and identify government spending and the crowding out effect.

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Sometimes I wish I had never stumbled upon the mises institute.  It would have saved me a huge amount of frustration.  I could just sit in my chair and zone out like all the rest of the students, and regurritate information for the tests.

Hahaha. You're not alone. Parallels have been drawn to finding the Austrian school and the Matrix (specifically, in whether one should choose the red pill or the blue pill). You're not alone.

Anyway, I've respectfully challenged him on quite a few things so far, and intend to do so more in the future.

This is what I did. I asked critical questions carefully, without too many loaded words, and politely and (even though my teacher and I didn't resolve all of our arguments in agreement) I feel that I earned his respect and I didn't make an "enemy." I was always careful to not persist in an argument for too long (otherwise, one can appear as "that guy") and make a nuisance of myself in class- I always "chose" my battles (this way, whenever another student felt uncertain in a particular lesson, they would approach me for clarification of what the teacher said and would feel comfortable when I offer my perspective when they seemed interested in it). 

I know exactly what you mean when you mention the dilemmas of tests and "not knowing" how to answer a question. Some memborable disputes include the ordinal nature of marginal utility (seriously, utils? even the textbook we used said that utils are made up immeasurable things), indifference curves, the cardinal nature of consumer/producer surplus presented in class, as well as the high prices of gas. Fun times.

If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore. HHH

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I wish I found the Austrian school as a freshman/sophomore.

If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore. HHH

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Since 1974 seven Nobel Prizes have been given for work critical of the Phillips curve.

This is reassuring.

If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore. HHH

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 I think it's important to note that most ideas which make up modern economics have been around since 1840 with the classical economists.

And most work since has been "and this is how markets fail," it appears from my experience with school.

I don't get it. You start Econ 101 learning that "markets are good solutions to economic problems" and then you spend 10 years afterwards learning how markets fail - asymmetric info, monopolies, frice fixing, unused capital, unstable financial sectors, powerful corporations, etc.

Either markets are generally good solutions or they're not - pick one. If markets fail so much then don't teach Econ 101 students that markets are good solutions.

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eliotn replied on Wed, Aug 1 2012 8:14 PM

"Either markets are generally good solutions or they're not - pick one." 

Sorry to nitpick Waylous, but it is a false dichotemy to assume that something is a good solution or it is not, can't something be a good solution in particular circumstances.  I think the general mainstream view is that markets work in many scenarios, but there are some scenarios that they feel are flawed, hence the use of government to try to fix these flaws.  Maybe there is some hypocracy, but I don't know.

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Neodoxy replied on Wed, Aug 1 2012 10:02 PM

Wheylous.... Wheylous... Either acid is good or it's not, pick one. Just because something is good in some ways does not mean that it is not without flaws. I know that especially in our positions it can seem as though there must be a single correct solution, one blanket fact like "markets are always good" or "markets require constant maintenance", but this is not so. There is a lot of grey area.

Also I'd really disagree that it's all been about how markets fail. I'd argue that the only era where that was really the case was from the 30's to the 70's. From 1870 to 1930 marginalist theory, market structures, and the nature of the interest rate was really well examined, indeed most of the major concerns of AE rest on theories developed around this time and which was the center of mainstream attention at the time. From the 40's to 70's market failure and "macro economics", I.E Keynesian stimulus economics really developed, even the concept of collective goods was fleshed out.

From the 70's till now free market economics, supply side and monetarist, started to take off as well as RBCT, although that's a more recent developments. Furthermore in recent years the idea of self-regulated markets returned and the efficient markets hypothesis became popular (and was just as stupid when conceived as it is now). Most importantly the idea of government failure has come into its own, and public choice economics has finally been criticizing the very structure of government in the mainstream through economic methods.

This trend may well be coming to an end, however, with the most recent developments are increasingly anti-free market, as the most recent recession was caused by "free markets". Keynesianism is on the rise, and hopefully Austrianism will be too, and I consider that a very real possibility.

/Rant

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Wheylous replied on Wed, Aug 1 2012 10:26 PM

Sure, they claim that markets generally solve, but if you take the collective body of economic literature you'll find reasons for why the market needs significant government control in every aspect! Especially when you throw in general concepts like asymmetric information and monopoly - at that point, government suddenly becomes unable to do any harm whatsoever and economists throw the calculation debate out of the window.

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eliotn replied on Thu, Aug 2 2012 10:46 AM

"Sure, they claim that markets generally solve, but if you take the collective body of economic literature you'll find reasons for why the market needs significant government control in every aspect!"

Is your point that there is a lot of conflict in mainstream economic literature/lectures, that some literature presents claims that markets are generally good, while other literature presents "fatal flaws" or at least significant ones?

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what wheylous is saying that sulfuric acid cant be good to drink and be bad to drink.

Saying socialism works just as good as capitalism is impossible.  One HAS to be better.  Therefore one HAS to right and one has to be wrong.

saying markets are great and then saying markets are complete failures is wrong.  They either work or dont.

 

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Is your point that there is a lot of conflict in mainstream economic literature/lectures, that some literature presents claims that markets are generally good, while other literature presents "fatal flaws" or at least significant ones?

In my experience even pro-market people like Hayek advocate things like a basic income (and Friedman with the NIT). I mean, come on.

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Student replied on Fri, Aug 3 2012 4:03 PM

Scuffle #1 happend over the "phillips curve".  The very first lesson we learned was the fucking phillips curve.  (which states that theres a relationship between the level of inflation and unemployment. Basicly, the higher the inflation, the lower unemployment, and vice versa.)  THIS WAS THE VERY FIRST THING HE TAUGHT. 

That seems kind of bonkers. 

Is the using a textbook? I can't think of any intro or intermediate macro book that teaches that way. It would be interesting to see why he deviates from the textbook's outline.

 

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Rcder replied on Fri, Aug 3 2012 5:43 PM

That seems kind of bonkers. 

Is the using a textbook? I can't think of any intro or intermediate macro book that teaches that way. It would be interesting to see why he deviates from the textbook's outline.

In my own experience the Philips curve was the final part of a general lesson on introductory monetary policy concepts.  To be honest, I'm not sure how any of his students could understand the Philips curve if it's presented to them without any context or preface.  Maybe he's not really working from a textbook?

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grant.w.underwood:

what wheylous is saying that sulfuric acid cant be good to drink and be bad to drink.

Saying socialism works just as good as capitalism is impossible.  One HAS to be better.  Therefore one HAS to right and one has to be wrong.

saying markets are great and then saying markets are complete failures is wrong.  They either work or dont.

Right. Exactly what Mises explained.

To the OP, I would recomend this article by Gary North:

How a College Student Can Safely Create Pain for a Professor Who Is Misusing His Bully Pulpit

Check out my video, Ron Paul vs Lincoln! And share my PowerPoint with your favorite neo-con
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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Aug 5 2012 2:33 PM

"saying markets are great and then saying markets are complete failures is wrong."

And no one is saying that they are complete failure, well at least very few are. Just because something has a problem or a shorfall in it doesn't mean that it is useless. Cars are great, computers are great, but that doesn't mean that there aren't flaws in them.

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