In my view, every student should have classes in fundamental macroeconomic theories if they ever expect to thrive in today's economy. Capitalism is the economic system of America, yet few students understand the effects of inflation, interest rates, taxes, etc. on human behavior. Students today want to be a part of the political process, but I find that many lack the foundational knowledge of capitalism that is at the core of much of today's political discourse. The Council of Economic Education focuses on economic education in high schools and has a strong program here in Alabama.
During one of my recent classes, we discussed the call by many to raise taxes on wealthier Americans. I explained that no one, rich or poor, takes their money and simply buries it in the ground or stuffs it in a mattress. Instead, all consumers place money back into the economy using investments, savings or spending. So raising taxes can also be viewed as a simple question of who does a better job of putting money into the economy -- government or consumers.
If you advocate an activist government where federal agencies use monies secured through taxes to satisfy a variety of national level demands, you would favor government. But someone who believes an individual, whether rich or poor, is best equipped to place money into our economy, raising taxes would be counterproductive. My point wasn't to debate the merits of social programs, the national debt or the efficiency of government but to allow students to view a political issue through an economic prism.
Young adults also have a responsibility to stay informed, and I strongly advocate using a host of diverse sources to do this. There are several economists and financial advisers whose readings (I) regularly track even though their views span the economic spectrum. For example, Paul Krugman, Jeffrey Sachs and Milton Friedman postulate widely divergent economic theories -- yet I respect the opinions of each and regularly read their works.
Dave Ramsey offers sound financial advice, but I would never make a singular decision without first researching the works of others who I equally admire, even if they hold somewhat different opinions. In today's digital age, data and information have never been more readily available and coupled with an economic foundation built in high school, young adults have the tools to be financially fit.