Is it economics they want taught or religion?

The Wall Street Journal comments on some select results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) testing which this year included some questions on economics.

Pop quiz. Which has been most important in reducing poverty over time: a) taxes, b) economic growth, c) international trade, or d) government regulation?

Now this is an interesting question, does it have a simple answer? Here’s what the WSJ says.

We know what our readers would say. But lest you think American young people are slouching toward serfdom, you’ll be pleased to know that 53% of U.S. high school seniors also answered “b.” The latest version of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) asked this question, among others on economics, and the results will not please members of the Socialist International, or for that matter the Senate Finance Committee.

NAEP reported this week that 79% of twelfth graders passed this first-ever national economics test. Holy Hayek.

What is the evidence that economic expansion is what has reduced poverty over the years, and in which countries? Are they saying that Social security has nothing to do with the drastic reduction in the elderly dying in poverty? Are they saying that basic public health, public education, and basic workers’ rights have had nothing to do with the improvement in conditions since the industrial revolution? It has nothing to do with unions? Organization of labor? Minimum wage etc.? It has just been “economic expansion”? I would like to see the solid proof of that.

Is it just me or is answering “b”, correct for an economics class but incorrect for history?

Here’s a sure sign of a problem Cato thinks that 53 isn’t enough, and that 38% answering taxes or government regulation is a frightening trend.

So here’s the half-empty analysis: Some 38% of high school seniors think either that taxes or government regulation has been the most important factor in reducing poverty over time.

That’s just plain scary. Add it to the very, very long list of reasons why we need to reform our government-mandated system of government youth indoctrination and support educational freedom through tax credits.

That’s it. Now I’m positive “b” is the wrong answer.