CNBC anchor Joe Kernen rebels against the liberal brainwashing of his young daughter by the mainstream media and educational establishment.
"A jaunty and readable recapitulation of classical liberal economics." ---The Wall Street Journal
Every morning on CNBC's Squawk Box, Joe Kernen asks challenging questions. And at home he does the same with his young daughter, Blake. What are you learning in school? What TV shows do you like? What message did you get from that movie?
When Blake was nine, her answers told Joe that she had already absorbed a distorted view of economics---from her school, pop culture (even animated movies!), and just about everywhere else. She was learning that capitalism is unavoidably immoral, that business people can't be trusted, especially if they run big companies like BP or Wal-Mart, that trade is bad because it hurts American workers, and that no matter how bad things get, the government will always bail us out.
Joe admits that he shouldn't have been surprised in an era when Washington casually takes over car companies and spends a trillion dollars "stimulating" the economy. But he was outraged and determined to do something about it. If he couldn't fix our education system or Hollywood, at least he could teach Blake how capitalism really works, and why it's worth defending.
He started by asking her to write down phrases she didn't understand ("What's physical stimulus?"). That led to discussions of some tricky ideas, like credit and the time value of money. In theory a dollar today is always worth more than a dollar next year---but not to someone whose purchases are always paid for by someone else.
Joe and Blake talked about the pluses (small) and minuses (huge) of unions---including the unionized teachers who disparage the free enterprise system that pays their salaries. They investigated the complicated process by which even the simplest manufactured items get made, without anyone directing from above. They puzzled out the truth about so-called fair trade: Rather than help poor farmers, it helps keep farmers pooor. They learned the differences between Europe and America, and why free health care isn't really free.
And they discovered what nine-year-olds have in common with grown-up progressives: Both love to regulate private behavior and think that anything bad---like smoking or eating too much fast food---should be prohibited by law.
Ultimately, Joe convinced Blake that capitalism isn't about greed; it's about freedom. As she writes in one of her sections: "When I have to go to the store to buy a net for my aquarium (I have puffer fish) I can find a lot of nets, but no one told the store which ones to put on the shelf, and no one told the companies that make the nets how many to make, and no one told the companies that deliver the nets when to bring them. Or rather, everyone told them. Millions of ordinary people deciding what to buy and sell are smarter than even the hundred smartest people in the world."
Your Teacher Said WHAT?!
By Steven D. Laib, on April 23rd, 2011
Economic commentator Joe Kernan, with some help from his daughter Blake, shows us how to educate the next generation on business and economics, while undoing some of the damage brought about in the classroom by teachers who have drunk too much progressive Kool-ade.
I had never heard of Joe Kernan before his recent book arrived in my mailbox the other day. I should have been better informed, as I found out he was on the studio end of the famous Rick Santelli "Stop Spending!" rant. I also learned that he is a very successful business and economics commentator on CNBC, and has been for some time. The reason why is pretty clear after reading the book he has "co-authored" with his daughter Blake. He has a wide range of knowledge, immense analytic capacity a great sense of humor and the ability to make what is often complicated appearing stuff very simple, which leads to the purpose of his book "Your Teacher Said WHAT?!"
This book begins with a story about how daughter Blake came home one day reporting that her teacher suggested that it would be good for the economy if people stopped buying and selling so much. For a in intelligent business person that must have had the same effect as the detonation of a grenade in the middle of the living room. In any event, it resulted in the creation of a terrific book
I'm certain that a large number of parents have hit a brick wall of sorts when confronted by questions from their children about how the economy works. This book totally solves the problem of how to explain free markets to elementary school children by using examples from the real world and things they encounter in everyday life. It is remarkably simple to understand and even funny. Mr. Kernan has a remarkable sense of humor and even the absurd, particularly when dealing with how Hollywood produces anti-business / anti-capitalist films, while making billions off of the system that they condemn. One might note that the recent release of Atlas Shrugged came after the book was published, and it is not a Hollywood major studio production.
The concept of the book is simple. Each chapter covers one general topic structured around conversational vignettes between Blake and her father. Each vignette provides a likely situation that a parent will encounter in bringing up their children; followed by a discussion of the information needed to explain the answer, generally involving exactly how Mr. Kernan did it with Blake. Sometimes there will be digressions into additional information that may become useful if the child is sophisticated enough to understand them, or which may provide the parent with additional material to interpret and use as they see fit.
We see analyses of the European welfare system, Willie Wonka as a capitalist, children as progressives because of their attachment to rules and regulations and other aspects of daily life used to explain why things aren't always as they appear, and why there are often better ways to do things then letting regulators take over.
The topics covered range from property to production, regulation, welfare statism, pricing, unions and last but not least in importance, the role of opinion pages in the daily newspapers.
It is easy to suggest that a book such as this is long overdue, and while there will probably be a few places where the reader will disagree with the author's analysis of certain aspects of a particular topic, it does not detract from the overall value of the work, which might even be used as a basic economics text for middle school students in home school. The home school industry would be well advised to incorporate it into their curriculum, because it is as comprehensive and well presented as anything otherwise available. The blend of information, humor and life experiences makes it a work and of immense value, whether you are using it to educate yourself, educate your children, or use it as a tool for your children to educate themselves. If it had been available 40 years ago our nation might not be in the economic difficulties it is today.
Your Teacher Said WHAT?! is published by Penguin and is available from Amazon.com. It features a terrific picture of the co-authors looking exasperated on the cover, which most everyone will probably find amusing; and that was certainly the intent in putting it there