Generational Education

One of my favorite maxims is ” Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.”

Twelve months ago I was in the Amman, Jordan airport and overheard a conversation that I now realize foreshadowed the future that we all must unfortunately endure.    A man in  his 40’s (my age) was having an animated conversation with a young man of 30 about the state of the economy and the need for drastic change … a la Obama.   The older man was growing increasingly incredulous as to how this young man was describing the economy as a disaster.   The young man said that unemployment was now over 5% so it was nearing an emergency.  The older (wiser) man tried to explain that until the Reagan era began most economists never believed unemployment under 6% was even feasible as this was consider full employment.  The reply from the young man said it all “All I know that in my life, unemployment has never been this high so this is a crisis to me.”

That young man is now understanding what a true economic recession is.   Anyone born after 1970 has almost no practical memory of a struggling economy.  The stagflation and malaise of the 70’s has either not been taught to them or simply not relevant.    Their entire life experience has been an America that is strong and rebounds quickly from any economic slowdowns.  They have never experienced an impotent America trying to appease dictators wishing the US harm in the hopes they will like us.   Jimmy Carter is simply that nice ex-president who builds houses and monitors elections.

Conservatives have failed to win the minds of the generation under 40 and educate them on what is required to maintain our prosperity.   Since our history has not been learned, we are now forced to repeat the lesson.    The appeal of the “something for nothing” promises of expanding government has captured many generations past … only the pain of the inevitable failure of the philosophy and reality of economics and human nature will eventually reverse the appeal.   I worry that my teenage children must endure a lost decade before we can reestablish the “only” governing approach and economic system that has proven successful for increased standards of living.  I only hope it only takes just a decade.