Long before Lawrence W. Reed became president of the Foundation for Economic Freedom, he worked as an economics professor for many years, so he has an acute understanding of the dynamics of classroom and campus discourse.
Recently he channeled that knowledge – combined with his decades of think tank leadership – into a new book: “Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism.”
The book provides statistics and arguments for students to challenge 52 common narratives they face from professors and peers on campus.
Speaking to a group of about 30 students at the headquarters of Young America’s Foundation in Reston, Va., on Friday, Reed held an in-depth discussion about some of the best arguments to help liberty triumph over progressivism.
“Each chapter is intended to be a rebuttal with ammunition, intellectual ammunition for students in particular, but anybody to comeback and answer those myths and misconceptions,” Reed said.
Reed delved into several examples from his book, including:
1. “Jesus Christ was a progressive because he advocated income redistribution to help the poor.”
One of Reed’s personal favorite chapters in the book addresses the liberal notion that if Jesus Christ were alive today, he would probably endorse income redistribution.
But Jesus never endorsed the political redistribution of income, he said.
“He did urge that people should be caring and thoughtful and compassionate and responsible and to take care of your family and those around you,” Reed said. “But that was always a personal calling. He never said ‘You don’t have to worry about that, let’s just get the politicians to do it.’”
Okay – regarding this next one: Does this sound familiar? Is this not EXACTLY what is happening right now?!! I wonder how it will turn out this time?
2. “The Great Depression was a calamity of unfettered capitalism.”
History textbooks frequently paint the Great Depression as a result of destructive, laissez faire policies.
But Reed said that the government was not the innocent bystander in the years leading up to the depression. He pointed to the Federal Reserve, which he said was pumping up the economy by driving interest rates to historic lows throughout the “Roaring Twenties” through buying government bonds and injecting the financial system with liquidity.
“But the problem with that is that stuff is never sustainable,” Reed said. It is artificial.
“[The unsustainable interest rates] created a bubble which was burst in 1929.”
Reed added that the stock market crash was only a symptom of the Great Depression, not the cause. He noted that the Fed started to raise its interest rates in early 1929, and that the Stock Market began to moderately decline until its crash in October of that year.
“The stock market decline was reflecting the change in the Fed policy,” Reed said. “Just as the market had gone through the roof as the Fed was boosting up money supply. When the fed started to contract the money supply, the stock market reflected that change in policy.”