America’s Choice: “Trickle Down” or Trickle Up”

Throughout recent election campaigns, from the articles, speeches, broadcasts and lectures of North America’s chattering class, the public has been hearing a lot of condescending reference to something the liberal left likes to call “trickle down” economics.

Progressive humourists, entertainers, politicians and academics generally use the term to disparage the merits of free-market capitalism. More specifically, they are referring to “supply side economics” which shaped the policies of the Thatcher and Reagan revolutions of the early 1980’s. It is something they say we should never return to.

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Deconstructing High School Economics

By Yarema Kelebay and William Brooks

Originally developed as a presentation to the 1987 Canadian School Trustees Association in Charlottetown, PEI, this paper was later published in The McGill Journal of Education Vol. 26 No. 1 (Winter 1991)

Abstract: When economics was implemented as a compulsory subject in Quebec high schools during the late 1970s, the then reigning demand-side Keynesian assumptions were written into the new curriculum. With the coming of the Austrian School’s supply-side revolution in the early 1980s, the government set economics curriculum was ideologically inhospitable to supply-side insights. This has left the current economics curriculum outdated and an obstacle to quality economics education. Curriculum reform is recommended.

The introduction of economics as a compulsory subject in Canadian high schools has occurred over the past five to ten years and it has happened at a very dynamic and volatile period in the intellectual history of the western world. So before considering what is actually taught in economics classrooms, it might be useful to consider the intellectual trends which have influenced teaching over recent decades?

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Trade protectionism limits our futures

This article was developed as a case for free trade during the first Mulroney administration and published in The Gazette, Montreal, Tuesday, February 9, 1988.

As the final debate on free trade rages in Parliament and the nation, Canadians continue to be confronted by conflicting statistical forecasts about the future of our economy.

Some reports present attractive prospects for growth under a free trade agreement. Others paint disparaging pictures of lost jobs and dying industries. The growing mosaic of political, cultural and commercial opinion has probably produced more confusion than conviction.

Given a somewhat conflicting array of “hard facts” and “information based” reports from a wide variety of interested parties, perhaps we should take a moment the general question of trade at a more philosophical level.

Regarding the free-trade proposal Canadians might begin by reflecting on some generally accepted economic principles. The case for trade is really the case for specializing in certain types of production and trading for goods in which we do not specialize. Most economists agree that living standards would be drastically reduced if we tried to replace specialization and exchange with complete self-sufficiency.

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