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“Check your paycheck . . . you may think that you’re being robbed because so much of what you earn is being taken out. If this is so, then let your senators and congressmen and your state legislators know about it. Tell them that you want fewer government spending programs. . . .” ory of Henry Ford, who “had a better tools and technology “have always created new and more jobs,” never really putting people out of work. Mass production, the audience is invited to believe, invariably means high quantity and high quality. “Money Matters,” a segment on the monetary system and the evils of inflation, mounts an undisguised attack on government spending policies. After singling out the government as “the major contributing factor” behind inflation, the filmstrip moves on to specify particular expenditures that contribute to the inflationary spiralthose for social security, medicare and highways, for instanceleaving other possible examples, such as payments for national defense, for students to think of on their own. Praise of government is confined to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, whose quasi-autonomous control over interest rates is celebrated as a check on expansion of the money supplya matter, it is made clear, that is too crucial to be left in the hands of our elected representatives. Thus, the narrator admonishes, “We, as individuals, should support our representatives in actions aimed at keeping the Federal Reserve Board free of political pressures free to take the independent actions necessary to control inflation and help maintain our economy at a steady rate of growth.” The other presentations are of a piece with the ones already mentioned. “The Sense of Saving” advances the following propositions: government borrowing “drains off capital needed by those in the private sector”; the “temptation for government to tamper with the economy” must be resisted; “it makes sense to support efforts to let the normal economic forces of the private sector predominatewithout the disruptive effect of government intrusion.” “Profits at Work” makes it obvious that our economic system “will automatically correct itselfand become balanced. That isif it is left alone !” The sections called “Business Means Business about Ecology” and “The Business of Competition” are distinguished by their omission of significant mention of the role of governmentthe one focusing on the profitability, and therefore good sense, of recycling wastes, the other outlining selected examples of perfectly competitive markets. It is an understatement, perhaps, to say that “Economics for Young Americans” amounts to a political catechism based c The chamber’s tall tales After we saw the audio-visual aids package put together by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help Texas teachers teach economics to our kids, we wondered what a real-life economist would have to say about its contents. So we sent the whole shebang to Robert Lekachman, Distinguished Professor of Economics at New York City’s Lehman College, and asked him to assess it for our readers and tell us whether this stuff bears any relation to the way things actually work. Eds. By Robert Lekachman New York City My faith in the schoolchildren of Texas flourishes nearly as powerfully as my confidence in the clubfootedness of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spon \\s …or of the “educational aids” I find be fore me. Now, after brooding over them, I am prepared to say that economics, a tedious topic at best, is, in the hands of these corporate flacks, a thundering bore. Indeed, this is the only conceivable redeeming feature of the intellectual trash which clutters the presentation’s eight sections devoted to productivity, money, ecology, profits, competition, saving, prices, and paychecks. Skillful propaganda displays a certain sensitivity to opposing views, an ingratiating readiness to concede a minor dereliction here and there, and an intimation of awareness that the world is a complicated planet. Trained to wholesome cynicism by television and Watergate, our youngsters can be expected to reject, during wakeful interludes, the distortions, oversimplifications, omissions, and plain prevarications which garnish just about every part of the narrative and most of the cartoons. The portrait is of an American economy which even Irving Kristol and Milton Friedman might reject as a trifle mythological. No monopolies \(except for scientious attempts by advertisers to manipulate the customers. No whisper of a hint that among interest groups, organized businessnot least the Chamber of Commerce is far stronger than organized labor. \(Vide the record of the unmourned 95th Congress at last in blessed only reason why business, kicking and screaming all the way, is reluctantly taking some belated action on air and water pollution is congressional statute and executive enforcement. As one might expect, the Chamber of Commerce is at its most tendentious on the topic of government and its excesses. The incidence of sheer falsehood jumps sharply upward. It is simply not true, for example, that “the major contributing 6 NOVEMBER 3, 1978