Review: ‘Excuse me, Professor’ rebuts progressive clichés

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College is supposed to be a time of open-mindedness — learning critical thinking skills while surrounded by a diversity of opinions. Yet it seems like every day, another story surfaces about conservative students being silenced by their professors or university administrations.

For example, a student at Hagerstown Community College in Maryland recently sued her school after they prohibited her from starting a conservative club, reports Campus Reform. And the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education recently published a report highlighting the numerous conservative speakers that have been disinvited from speaking on university campuses because of their “controversial” views.

It’s no surprise that professors are predominantly liberal and that their political views are often imposed (whether intentionally or otherwise) on their students. A survey by the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute found that professors have become more liberal in the last few years, with more than 60 percent saying they identify as “liberal” or “far left” and less than 12 percent identifying as “conservative” or “far right.”

As a result, it’s often difficult for conservative students to stand up for their beliefs effectively and professionally, especially when their peers may actually shout them down.

To the rescue comes “Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism,” a new book published by the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education. From the economy to healthcare, labor unions to trade deficits, the book offers a brief primer on free-market responses to many of the fallacies commonly accepted today. The book highlights 52 progressive clichés and advises how best to rebut them in succinct chapters of two to three pages each.

Take inequality, one of the most popular issues in today’s political discourse. The fifth essay by Young America’s Foundation president Ron Robinson examines the statement: “Income inequality is the great economic and moral crisis of our time.”

Is it really? We have to remember that we are all unequal in many respects, including intellect, athletic ability, and personality traits. So why do we still expect to have just as much fame or fortune as the next person?

“Basically,” writes Robinson, “it is part of the human condition to resist conceding that someone else is more successful than you are because of different God-given talents, or because he might just be a harder worker, or because he made better decisions.”

The 21st essay rebuts the claim that “capitalism’s sweatshops and child labor cry out for government intervention.” This sounds like a caring position on the surface, but history shows that labor laws have had a minimal effect on improved living and working conditions compared to the power of savings and investment made possible by strong property rights.

“Men will take their children and women out of sweatshops as fast as they can afford it — as fast as better job opportunities develop — as fast as the supply of capital available per worker increases,” writes Paul Poirot, a longtime editor of The Freeman magazine.

The 40th essay describes the flaws behind the statement: “The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.” This assumption relies on a faulty view of how the economy grows, argues Freeman editor Max Borders. It’s also not true. Borders cites research that shows all income groups have become wealthier over time, even the bottom 20 percent.

“Excuse Me, Professor” is an essential guide for anyone (not just students) who wants to know how to respond to typical progressive clichés that sound good on the surface but collapse under scrutiny. “Excuse Me, Professor” can be easily read straight through or used as a reference whenever your professors (or friends) start speaking in platitudes.

Daniel Huizinga is a columnist for Opportunity Lives covering business and politics. Follow him on Twitter @HuizingaDaniel.

This article first appeared on Opportunity Lives.