Under the Staircase: Kickstarter project related to Milton Friedman and teaching economics to young kids


Zowee Batman, I wish our grand kids had the opportunity to read these books by author I. M. Lerner! We don’t how great they will turn out to be when complete – but the project looks very promising. Ms. Lerner begins her Kickstarter project: 

One sunny September morning, many (many) years ago, I walked cautiously into a classroom and slid into an empty seat. I was a junior in high school and I had just signed up for an Econ 101 class. When I left the classroom that day, I was a completely different person. It took a few more classes for me to realize what had happened. And it was really quite simple. The blindfold had been removed and a whole new world opened up.

Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Thomas Sowell, Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, Walter Williams…I read anything and everything I could get my hands on from these and many other writers. And I found myself questioning, for the first time, what I had been spoon-fed during my years in school. I went back to my economics base often during my college years, as a counterweight to what was being advanced (no longer spoon-fed, now shoveled) within the college environment. It was my bulwark.

I started thinking about “crazy” ideas and values like personal responsibility, free enterprise, self-sufficiency, self-determination, individual rights, entrepreneurship, freedom and liberty…well, you get the idea.

As the mother of two young kids, I originally planned to recommend these (and other) great economists to my kids during their teenage years. And yes, that idea was probably doomed to failure. Not only because most teenage kids pretty much run away from anything parents would recommend. No, the reality is that by playing defense until their teenage years, we’re essentially relinquishing the field. We’re abdicating our responsibility to help shape our kids’ values by always staying two steps behind, as these values (and basic common sense) are drilled out of our kids.

It’s time to stop playing defense.

So where to begin?

A book. And more specifically: a book series. An economic adventure series that fosters the values we care so deeply about. Created specifically for our kids, at an age where they soak up everything around them. Incorporating mystery and adventure to engage our young readers, and using examples from our kids’ day-to-day lives – in school, with friends, and in familiar situations – so that they can be armed with logic and a healthy dose of critical thinking skills.

There will be six books in the initial phase.

  • Under the Staircase: Meeting Milton (Milton Friedman) 
  • Under the Staircase: Hello Hayek! (Friedrich Hayek) 
  • Under the Staircase: Talking to Thomas (Thomas Sowell) 
  • Under the Staircase: Waiting for Walter (Walter Williams) 
  • Under the Staircase: Asking Adam (Adam Smith) 
  • Under the Staircase: Adventures with Ayn (Ayn Rand)

Buy them all!

3 thoughts on “Under the Staircase: Kickstarter project related to Milton Friedman and teaching economics to young kids

  1. Although it would be good to read the suggested list of books, it is seriously unbalanced. People should also read books by Samuelson, Keynes, and others who differ from those on the list.

      • I also started with Samuelson at the University of Minnesota, from which I got my bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1971 and the equivalent of a minor in economics. However, we studied the writings of several economists. I can’t recall whether we read anything written by Milton Friedman of the Chicago School of Economics, but I was definitely familiar with his viewpoints.

        Friedman asserted that instead of adjusting monetary policies according to the state of the economy, it would be better to expand continually the money supply, at a controlled rate. The reason given was that by the time it is possible to determine what the economy is actually doing, it is too late to adjust the money supply and that adjustments in the money supply can easily become out of phase with what is optimal. There is evidence to support his viewpoint. For example, in about 1938, as we recovered from the Great Depression, the Roosevelt administration believed that we were headed for inflation and therefore implemented severe monetary contraction policies resulting in a deepening of the depression.

        It may be that because we have better and more current statistics available now, that Friedman’s concern about having policy out of phase may be less valid.

        One of my current concerns is permitting financial institutions to become “too large to fail.” I think that the excessively large ones should be broken up, but it would have to be done with great care to avoid creating other problems. The problems of Morgan also indicate that corrective action should be taken.

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