A “True” Story Posted by My Grandfather to Facebook, or What Older Generations Really Think of Young People

A “True” Story Posted by My Grandfather to Facebook, or What Older Generations Really Think of Young People


An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. 
The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan". All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... (substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all).
After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.. 
The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F. As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. It could not be any simpler than that. 
Remember, there IS a test coming up. The 2012 elections.

These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:
1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Comment 1:  WAY TO GO!! Those fool students got an excellent lesson on why Socialism is an abysmal failure.

December 13, 2011 at 7:15am · 

Comment 2: It is really quite sad to see college students who think like this...... once they are in the real world, that ought to change fairly quickly (at least, I sure hope so).

December 13, 2011 at 7:16am · 

Comment 3: If it does not they are either exceptionally naive or wind up as part of the entitlement class.

December 13, 2011 at 7:19am ·

Comment 4: Exactly!!

December 13, 2011 at 7:20am

Comment 5: The students got what they deserved, and so will we if we don't change the way our youth think about this country, and the brain washing they get from most of the left leaning teachers in the system. Thank God for this Prof. and lets hope his students finally got the lesson.

December 13, 2011 at 7:30am · 

Comment 6: So agree!!!

December 13, 2011 at 7:31am · 

Comment 7: ME TOO!

December 13, 2011 at 7:31am · 

Comment 8: I"ve seen this before, it sure ring's true. sadley the first wave of Indoctrination has rolled through, there called OWS protesters.

December 13, 2011 at 7:57am · 

Comment 9: I think these few college students are just a small portion of the problem. When %78 of the people agree with the President talking about making the Rich "pay their fair share" when so many others aren't paying a dime and are sucking off the government dole I think we have a much larger problem than we care to admit.

January 4 at 4:09pm · 

Comment 10: There used to be a stigma attached to being on the govt dole, now it seems to be a source of pride for many. I think we are seeing the decay of a once great nation much like the Great Roman Empire fell. We are seeing the modern day version ...See More

January 4 at 4:11pm ·  

Comment 11: Thanks for sharing... This is the most compelling experiment I've every heard of from "a college professor." Usually pretty liberal. I will share!!!

January 5 at 7:32am · 

Comment 12:  Snopes says it is legendhttp://www.snopes.com/college/exam/socialism.asp

January 5 at 7:47am

Comment 13: FIGURES!

January 5 at 9:41am

Comment 14: ‎ probably true, but some of my favorite and most memorable stories are also legends

January 5 at 9:50am · 

Comment 15: It certainly illustrates the point in a simple way. The only problem I saw with the story is that everyone in the class went along with it. Hopefully we are not ALL sheep.



So here we are. We have this wonderful story, posted onto Facebook by my grandfather (screw you, Mark Zuckerburg, for letting anyone above the age of 30 on there in the first place). As one semi-astute commenter points out, this story is not true. It is, in fact, completely made up. There are many, many reasons why I doubted this story was even close to truthful. First, it mentions a “local college,” which basically means either the local liberal arts university (where my degree is from) or the local community college. Since the professors at the community college don’t have a lot of freedom in how they set their grading scale, and since the students at my alma mater aren’t complete morons who think socialism means that everyone gets exactly the same amount of everything, I crossed them off the list. There is one more possibility, which is a local Christian school, but I think their business school is actually decent and so I doubt it. Anyways, my cousin graduated from that school recently, and I’m sure I would have heard if a professor there decided to behave like a lunatic.


The main reason why I supposed this story to be false is that none of the people involved behave like actual people who have ever studied at a college. They behave like an ignorant, frightened person supposes that a clever economics professor (who of course must share their opinion that Obama is a “socialist”) and foolish students (those kids always think they’re so damn smart, don’t they?) would act. Professors don’t fail students who do their work correctly. At least, not at either of the two universities I attended, or any of the universities my family members and friend attended. Students also do not sit back and accept C’s when they have earned A’s. I can guarantee that most if not all of the students who cared about their grades enough to study would be waiting outside the Dean’s office before the end of the day. The people who commented on my grandpa’s Facebook page even recognized this. They mentioned Occupy Wall Street. There, a lot of young people have gathered to protest a perceived injustice when there is no clear person they should be protesting to. Yet in the story, students in a bureaucracy where there are clear chains of command and systems in place to address injustices just fall into an apparent lethargy of socialism. It’s only believable if you really want to believe it.


Now, for kicks and giggles, let’s assume that the story is true. A “local economics professor” truly did attempt to impart a vicious lesson to his students about the evils of socialism and how the lazy use it to leach off of the hard workers. Let’s try a little brainteaser and look at some of the reasons explaining why the lesson, instead of the story, is bullshit.


1)      Let’s get the obvious out of the way. A classroom is not an economy. One student cannot hoard all of the good grades. In most undergraduate classrooms, it is theoretically possible for every single student to get an A. Obviously, in an economy it is impossible for every person to be in the top percent of earners. There is no “free market” principle here because the students, if they actually receive the grades they earn, are not dependent on each other for their grades. In a capitalist economy, those who make money have to get it from other people, and the other people don’t have an unlimited amount of it to spend. The professor here has an unlimited amount of any grade he wishes to give. He can fail every student, or he can give them all A’s.


2)      Socialism doesn’t mean only one thing. Setting up state-run programs that the taxpayers contribute to is a far cry from having all companies run by the state. I think it is fair to assume that the more extreme form of Socialism is what the professor had in mind, since all students received an average of the class’s labor, but considering that our country does not even have a public option when it comes to health care for the majority of its citizens, anyone who claims that Obama is trying to turn us into China is grasping at straws. The first thing that popped into my head when I read this was that it was just ridiculous for my grandfather to be denouncing Socialism in all its forms, since without Medicare he would be dead, as he and my grandmother could not afford the heart surgery he had two years ago without that Socialist system.


3)      A similar grading system does exist in some college classrooms in a smaller form. That form is the dreaded group project. In any random group of students you are bound to get some who work harder than others, and therefore some who work more to make up the difference and some who benefit from that person’s work. However, the students who work harder don’t stop working because other people aren’t doing their share. They work harder, and they do everything in their power to get their lazier group members to pitch in. This is the argument I never buy. I’ve heard it on Fox News from O’Reilly, I’ve heard it from whiny businessmen, and I don’t believe it. They talk about how, if they have to pay more in taxes, they won’t really get to enjoy the fruits of their labor, and they guess they’ll just have to quit! Who is stupid enough to believe this? Who really thinks that, because they get to take home 15 million next year instead of 22 million, that they will just throw in the towel? “Well, 15 million is just chicken scratch! Guess I’ll quit now and let someone else cut into my market niche while I go away and no longer earn any money, so that I don’t have to pay taxes on it.” It is even sillier than thinking that students who work hard for A’s will settle for F’s just because the teacher doesn’t like Obama. This is what we call a bluff, children, because these people like paying 12% taxes instead of 60%. They think if they threaten to take away your jobs, you will back off and leave them with their precious, precious loopholes.


To sum up, I am sick of older people who depend on both Social Security and Medicare calling Democrats Socialists like it’s a terrible thing, while trying to paint my generation as stupid children. Most of my generation isn’t sucking on the Social Security teat yet, but if they hate Socialism so much, we can always suspend those programs for a month – just a month, and just for anyone ranting about Socialism. My grandfather is a veritable fountain of pre-existing conditions, so if he loves the free market economy so much, unregulated by the federal government, maybe it would do him some good to shop around for an insurance company that would choose to cover him in a free market. I know it would do my temper some good.

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Comment by Michael OL on February 25, 2012 at 6:15pm

Another thought comes to mind.  Let's stipulate for the sake of amusement that this story bears relation to real life.... just bear with me here.

In class after class, college after college, grades are averaged.  As the story intimates, eventually the average grade for everyone is an "F".  Worldwide, in kindergarten, in K-12, in college and law school and engineering school, everyone receives an F.  The phenomenon becomes so widespread that report cards and transcripts become obsolete, as "F" is the universal grade.  Then it spreads to employee evaluations, consumer evaluations of businesses, real estate ads for houses for sale, advice on travel destinations.  Everything in every walk of life is evaluated as "F" - no exceptions.

Planet Earth becomes one giant, screaming, throbbing "F".

So that's the picture.  And now I ask - WHY WOULD THIS BE A BAD THING?

Comment by Regina M on February 25, 2012 at 4:45pm

Searching snopes.com for "professor" and "socialism" brought this up: http://www.snopes.com/college/exam/socialism.asp which looks like yours in a shortened form. This sort of apocryphal story tends to send off alarm bells in my head, which is a great time to begin to search for the truth.

Comment by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on February 19, 2012 at 11:57pm

Comment #15 and Michael OL make good points. My first reaction was, Economics Professor who talks as if Obama advocates socialism? Perhaps community colleges might hire someone that ignorant, depending on the community standards.

In The Great Turning, David Korten makes the point that wealth is not the same as money. Real wealth is actual resources for life, money is a system of representation upon which we agree. Financial Capitalism manages to transfer greater and greater share of the world's actual wealth into the hands of the elite 1% through manipulations of money (instead of actually producing goods or services). Denigrating the poor with stories of unearned wealth transfer *shudder* Socialism, like this one, is a SMOKESCREEN for the real wealth transfer happening right now. Financiers cheat us through numerous, clever manipulations. We've been so blind it feels as if no one is behind the curtain, that we just happen to get devastated by inflation and mortgage bubbles. Once Korten put the pieces together for me, I was mad as hell.

Comment by thewoodenwand on February 19, 2012 at 11:50pm
My mother went to Antioch University and you graded yourself (this was in 1948). Mrs Martin Luther King and Rod Serling (of The Twight Zone) were in her class. Today what would todays students do, All A's?
Comment by thewoodenwand on February 19, 2012 at 11:45pm
I wonder how long it will take before we have a virtual president, every citizen having a vote on every decision that needs to be made. Maybe a virtual congressman first.
The real problem with socialist, democratic, communist, liberal, dictatorship and any system is corrpution in governments and business. Greece needs to nationalize the banking system or totally elliminate it. Economies should run as non-profit organizations for the good of the people of the country not the wealthy.
Comment by Prog Rock Girl on February 19, 2012 at 10:30pm

For one thing, most of the time students are not rewarded for their grades. Sometimes there's the incentive of a good career, but lately there isn't even that. I did really well in school last time I went, just for the hell of it.

And yes Sentient, I met one of those old people who complained about Obama's socialism. A few of them really. The one actually complained about FDR being "a goddamn socialist". I wonder if she had the option to refuse social security?

Comment by Michael OL on February 19, 2012 at 8:58pm

A professor who entertained such fancies would get reamed by the department chairman, the dean, and the rest of the administration -tenure or no.  So no professor would indulge in such crap.

Returning to our counterfactual premise, and adding to the points made above. 

- "The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else."

     This is completely false!  The Hoover Dam, the national highway system, and the Apollo program are just a few examples of how government creates something out of nothing, acting as entrepreneur that creates jobs and adds resources and pumps the economy.  None of these ventures would have been possible in the private sector.  It is the government, and not Walmart or the corner gas station, which is the employer of last resort.  But more importantly, it is the government, and not private enterprise, that has the muscle and the resources to engage in risky research and investment that won't pay off in the near term, but which is fabulously remunerative in the long term.

- "You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!"

     This again is completely false.  Wealth is created by matching resources (land, tools, raw materials) to the people best fit to use them.  A city-dweller won't know what to do with a bag of seeds.  A farmer won't know what to do with a bag of integrated-circuit chips.  Sometimes the market can distribute the best basket of goods to the best user, but not always.  Markets have a manic personality, jumping from euphoria to collapse (dot com boom and bust, real estate boom and bust - 1996 to 2007).  By "dividing" wealth, government distributes the most resources to the most able, increasing overall productivity and eventually overall wealth.

- "What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving."

     This one's partially true.  If the Baby Boom generation receives 100% of the social security benefits that they were "promising", then later generations won't get squat.



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