Sunday, April 9, 2006

But teach a man to demand fish handouts and he will demand fish handouts for a lifetime

From the International Herald Tribune:

But in [French] high schools, the "economic and social sciences" branch - one of three options that is chosen by about a third of all students - appears to dwell more on the limitations of the market and the state's task of addressing those limitations than on the market itself.

[Danielle] Scache, who has been teaching economics for 37 years, said her stint at Danone made her realize how little the official syllabus focuses on the market. "We briefly look at the market mechanism in perfect competition as a fictional case, and then immediately move on to what the state or European authorities can do to alleviate its shortcomings," she said.

The syllabus for the final year, for example, has seven units: growth, capital and technological progress; work and employment; social stratification and inequality; conflicts and social mobilization; integration and solidarity; globalization; and European integration and economic and social policy.

And then there are the textbooks. One, published by Nathan and widely used by final-year students, has this to say on p. 137: "One must analyze the salary as purchasing power that you could not cut without sparking a deflationary spiral and thus higher unemployment." Another popular textbook, published by La Découverte, asks on p. 164: "Are there still enough jobs for everyone?" It then suggests that the state subsidize jobs in the public sector: "We can seriously envisage this because our economy allows us already to support a large number of unemployed people."
Via Joe Noory of ¡No Pasarán! who adds:
The truth of this form of economics is even simpler. If you can't make an economy function with concocted theories of that sort, you end up having to rewire nature somehow and accept the inherent flaws and inefficiencies that actually keep everyone poorer. The public is thus punished to prove a weak idea, and made dependant on it to make it indelible. What starts as a desire to please them make a slave out of them.