2018-05-16 / Opinion

A Cry in the Wilderness

by Blake Proctor

To help return you to the mindset of my discussion from last week, I reiterate:

Support for these values among young people is eroding largely because they are not taught.

This isn’t a question of students avoiding certain courses of study. The proportion of all bachelor’s degrees conferred in the various established fields of study have remained virtually constant since the early 1970s.

It’s about how the subjects are taught.

The humanities used to be a portal to a world of knowledge and experience beyond the immediate. Now they are fashioned into a cudgel to beat conservatives.

Social scientists used to look at large normative questions with important practical implications. Now they produce highly technical research of little use in the real world.

Natural scientists were motivated by the desire to push the boundaries of our understanding and enhance the quality of our lives. Now many are evangelists and grubby rent-seekers, believing they have a monopoly in the truth, and demanding that government fund their work at the expense of other social needs.

Even the study of business has changed. Solid data are hard to come by, but anecdotal evidence suggests subfields such as human resources, finance, corporate law, ethics, and social responsibility are growing rapidly.

Programs are moving away from the core activity of business, production, and commerce; or, in other words, the basic tenets of capitalism.

The importance of traditional American values such as self-reliance, individualism, and freedom of thought, expression, and action is self-evident to you and me, but we wouldn’t always think of their cultivation in young minds as antidotes to the specific ills Sasse describes. They are.

They bring social cohesion by providing a common set of values and appraising people as individual human beings rather than members of some distinct group.

This breaks down barriers across demography and generations. They suggest people are free and sovereign and imbues with rights and responsibilities.

This incentivizes production and encourages relationships – which can be adversarial and self-interested, conditions that are perfectly healthy when sewn into the society’s culture and regulated by the rule of law.

Traditional American values are therefore certainly for “grown-ups.” If only they were for Millennials too.

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