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July Shelton was nominated for a position at the Federal Reserve on July 2, 2019. That Democrats were opposed to Donald Trump’s Fed nominee was a given. What’s more eye-opening for the purposes of this piece is that she lacked the Republican votes to achieve confirmation. Some, including Sen. Mitt Romney, opposed Shelton given her past support for re-linking the dollar to gold.

On its face, the opposition was odd. Love or hate the Fed, the reality is that no one person can change policy there. So while the dollar’s exchange value has never been part of the Fed’s remit as is, individuals like Romney refused to vote for Shelton based on her historical views about gold and money, views that were once pretty mainstream on the right. And if you doubt the previous assertion, don’t forget that reviving the dollar’s link to gold was a major presidential campaign pledge of Ronald Reagan’s in 1980 (“No nation in history has ever survived fiat money, money that did not have a precious metal backing.”).

What’s the point of all this throat-clearing ahead of a write-up about education? It’s a way of making a point that conservatives would arguably better spend their time straightening out the thinking of the few right-of-center types in education and punditry over wringing their hands about left-wing majorities in both spaces.

The view here is that people aren’t indoctrinated on college campuses as much as they arrive with an ideology. It’s at university that more than a few migrate to what reinforces their beliefs, as opposed to having their beliefs warped. Evidence supporting this point-of-view can be found in the fact that Republicans are still more than competitive in races for national offices like Congressman, Senator, and President.

Furthermore, Democrats and Republicans raise the big money for their campaigns among the college educated. That they both pursue a similar demographic speaks loudly to how little colleges succeed when it comes to shaping views, as opposed to merely reinforcing them. In other words, assuming a monolithically left-wing professoriate on campus, it’s apparent from the latter that Republican-leaning students either aren’t listening, aren’t agreeing with their professors, or a combination of both.

Which is why it’s perhaps useful for Republicans and the right to look inward on the matter of education. If the premise is accepted (or can even be entertained) that people go to school, and subsequently follow scholars/pundits out of school in search of ideological reinforcement, the bigger problem for the advancement of free thought might come from the right.

Consider Shelton again. The late right-of-center hero Milton Friedman thought the notion of currency price stability born of a commodity definition an abomination. Yes, Friedman did not share Reagan’s views about money. What’s true about Friedman is true about academics at the famously “free market” University of Chicago today, but also in elite right-of-center think tanks like the Hoover Institution and American Enterprise Institute. Even though producers in the proverbial arena the world over happened upon gold over thousands of years as the single best way to anchor the price of money, the very notion of doing just that today generates haughty dismissals not just among conservative professors on campus, but at the top think tanks as mentioned, along with prominent right-of-center publications like National Review. Worse, conservative critics of gold-defined money promote abject falsehoods about it constricting so-called “money supply,” about how adherence to stable money caused the Great Depression, and that the answer to our money woes can be found in empowering the Federal Reserve to control so-called “money supply.”

To be clear, it’s not just on the matter of money that conservative deep thinkers move against free thought. Consider Ukraine. While wise minds can agree or disagree about the good or bad of support for Ukraine, the editorial board at the New York Post (a prominent right-leaning newspaper) recently asserted that funding Ukraine “will be a boon” for the U.S. economy, Wall Street Journal editorial page columnist Karl Rove has said much the same, after which it’s easy to speculate that similar assertions have been promoted on Fox News and elsewhere on the right.

Inflation? In the past, the definition of it was simple: a devaluation of the currency. Nowadays, conservatives don’t rail against government spending because it amounts to the central-planning of precious resources by politicians, but because government spending per conservative hero Phil Gramm results in “excess demand” that pushes up prices. Gramm published the previous viewpoint at the Wall Street Journal. More than once. It seems John Maynard Keynes and the impossibility of government-engineered demand “multipliers” lives, albeit on the right.

All of which is the point. While conservatives worry endlessly about lefty academics and pundits like them in the media, they’ve arguably taken their eyes off of the proverbial ball. Some of the flabbiest, un-Reagan like thinking of all can be found on the very right wing that conservatives are most likely to be influenced by. It’s something to think about.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, President of the Parkview Institute, a senior fellow at the Market Institute, and a senior economic adviser to Applied Finance Advisors (www.appliedfinance.com). His latest book, set for release in April of 2024 and co-authored with Jack Ryan, is Bringing Adam Smith Into the American Home: A Case Against Homeownership

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