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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Will Generation 'Gimme' Work For The American Dream? If We Had More Professors/Teachers Like Jack Chambless, They Would

Each year Professor Chambless has his students write an essay at the first of the year on what the American Dream looks like to them.

This year, he asked the students to specifically write what they thought the federal government should do to help them realize their dream.

He took the essays from his 3 classes, approximately 180 students, and after reading through them, he was shocked at what these student believe about the role of the federal government.
He said about 10% want the government to leave them alone and allow them to control their own lives but an overwhelming 80% feel the government needs to provide for them.
Here's a list of what his students think the government should provide:
  • JOBS
(This essay was written before the OWS movement took hold.)

Here's an exerpt from one of the essays: 
"As human beings, we are not really responsible for our own acts and so we need government to control those who don't care about other."

When asked where he thinks his students' "sense of entitlement" comes from,  he said that "public schools are part of it." Then he was asked about an "experiment" he conducts in his classes, in which he pretends to be a "pickpocket" to show students it's "wrong" for "the government to plunder people."

Here is his response, "Well, yes. When I went back to class the next time to meet with them, I told them I read over their essays and I read some of the comments they had made. And then I sat them on a table, and I asked everybody to pull out their wallets and their purses. And I picked one student in each class, and when their wallet was in their hand, I grabbed their wallet out forcefully  and in one case, I grabbed a girl's purse, and I rifled through her purse, pulled out her wallet, pulled out all of her cash. And I said that part of my American Dream was to have a cabin in northern Minnesota someday so I could have a nice retirement, and that this money was now going to help fund that American Dream. And of course, that set in motion explanation [sic] on why using the government to plunder people to support our American Dream is fundamentally, morally wrong, constitutionally wrong, and leads to a lot of economic -- economically bad events if we let that idea gain ground."

Source: Fox News 

Thoughts on the World Around Us
Today's lesson: Dream, but not at government's expense (click here to watch Fox News interview on this issue) 

The Orlando Sentinel, October 9, 2011 - to hear more about this article and the experiment it discusses you can listen to my radio interviews with Janine Turner and Brian Wilson. 

On the first day of class this semester, I asked my students to spend 10 minutes writing a brief essay explaining their definition of the American Dream and what they expected the federal government to do to help them achieve their version of this dream.

The first part of all of their essays was pretty standard stuff. They wanted to have a good job, a home, a family and enough money to enjoy their lives for decades to come.

Description: was the second part of the majority of these essays (from a population of 180 students) that left me discouraged and bewildered.

When contemplating the role of Washington, D.C., in helping them achieve their goals in life, my students — most of whom were educated in America's public schools — wrote that they wanted government to "pay for my tuition," "provide me with a job," "give me money for a house," "make sure I get free health care," "pay for my retirement," "raise taxes on rich people so that I can have more money" and so forth.

One student who thought her American Dream could be best achieved with more government regulations went so far as to say, "We all know that there are many bad side effects when regulations take place, but as human beings, we are not really responsible for our own acts, and so we need government to control those who don't care about others. It makes sense that our freedom is reduced every day with the new regulations."

Recently, The Wall Street Journal reported that for the first time in our nation's history, 51 percent of Americans will not pay income taxes this year. It should also be noted that in 1983, just over 29 percent of Americans received some form of government assistance. Today the figure is 44.4 percent.

These figures are noteworthy and arguably linked to my students' concept of what the role of government should be in their lives.

After all, it makes intuitive sense that in a nation where fewer and fewer Americans are net contributors to our prosperity, the children of those who increasingly live off their fellow citizens would develop the perception that part, if not all, of the American Dream involves taking money away from a working, productive American in order to fill the financial gaps in our lives.

On the second day of class, I asked my students to pull out their purses and wallets. In each class, I approached one student, grabbed his wallet, opened it and took out all of the cash.

I then told the shocked student that part of my American Dream is to have a cabin on a lake in northern Minnesota someday so that I can enjoy my retirement in this beautiful part of the country.

My students listened to a mini-lecture on our Founding Fathers' view of our rights — especially as it pertains to the pursuit of happiness.

Many seemed to comprehend, perhaps for the first time, that all of us have every right to pursue access to high-quality health care, a good job, a home, cars, retirement and whatever else we might want to peacefully acquire, but that no one has an inherent right to use the arm of government to forcibly take the private property of another citizen in order to obtain our desires.Description: 

In effect, with every dollar we receive by force in order to gain our dream, we are diminishing, by one dollar, some other person's dream.

I hope they understood, and I hope I remembered to give those kids their money back.

UPDATE: Great News!  One of Professor Chambless' students comes forward to say that he has reassessed his position and has changed his mind and realizes people should be responsible for their own American dream.

Should Taxpayers Fund American Dream?

Robert Newton is one of Professor Chambless' students that originally had felt that the government should provide for American's but after listening to the Professor, he has changed his mind.


Jack A. Chambless is a professor of economics and professional speaker.  He has taught since 1991 at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida where he served as the the Patricia Whalen Chair in Social Science in 1999 and 2004.   In addition to teaching Principles of Micro and Macroeconomics he has also taught honors courses in economics, two online courses and special topics courses entitled "Applied Microeconomics" and "Oil, Economics and Terrorism." 

He is a frequent contributor to The Orlando Sentinel and has had his work published in The Wall Street Journal, The University of Miami Law Review, The Public Utilities Fortnightly, Structural Movers, Orlando Magazine and many other domestic publications.  His work has been cited in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Reason Magazine, The Foreign Press Review, The Atlanta Journal & Constitution, The Detroit News, The British Caledonian Press and many other foreign and domestic publications.

In addition to teaching, Professor Chambless speaks frequently around the United States on the Economics of Liberty.    He has lectured at The Foundation for Economic Education in New York; The Young America's Foundation Freedom Fest in Las Vegas; The Florida Libertarian Convention, The Florida Parent Educators Association convention and Georgia State University and has appeared on national television and radio broadcasts including CNBC's Inside Opinion, FoxNews Europe and Your World with Neal Cavuto (FoxNews), The Neal Boortz Show, the BBC, National Public Radio and The Jim Hightower Show.   He is also currently serving as a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute - a think tank in Chicago, Illinois.

He is the author of two economics textbooks - An Applied Approach to Microeconomics and An 
Applied Approach to Macroeconomics, both published by Kendall Hunt.

Professor Chambless enjoys hiking in the Northwestern United States, Minnesota and Canada, bass fishing and photography in his spare time.


Move over, Fox and MSNBC: Two Professors to Debate on Thursday

 Monday, November 28, 2011
Who needs to watch talking heads debate politics on MSNBC or Fox News when Valencia has its own in-house political pundits?

Join Valencia students, faculty and staff on Thursday, Dec. 1, to watch “A Conversation Between Two Liberals,” a debate between Valencia professors John Scolaro and Jack Chambless. The debate will take place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Special Events Center of Building 8 on West Campus.

Scolaro, who is a liberal by today’s standards, and Chambless, who describes himself as “a liberal in the classical sense,” rarely agree on politics. Both are avid writers and contributors to the Orlando Sentinel’s op-ed pages. “There are very, very few things that he and I have agreed upon over the years,” Chambless says.

At Thursday’s debate, Scolaro, who teaches humanities, and Chambless, who teaches economics, will tackle ideological questions of the day, including these:

  • Is Barack Obama’s presidency a failure?
  • Do the Occupy Wall Street protesters have a good point? Are their objectives commendable or condemnable? 
  • Should the United States become more like Europe?
  • Is there a bias against women in society today and, if not, why have so few women been elected to public office?
The goal, say both professors, is to engage public debate — and inspire their students, friends and faculty members to think about the larger issues facing the nation.

“My hope is that attendees will be inspired to deepen their understanding of the ‘hot issues’ of the day — on both a national and international level — and will embrace the view that being informed is an important aspect of citizenship in a democracy,” Scolaro says.

The debate will be moderated by Valencia political science professor Desmond Duncan.  Seating is available for about 300 guests, but the event will also be videotaped and will be posted on Chambless’s website ( after the event.

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