The U.S. economy is headed in the wrong direction. Gross government overreach is regulating private companies out of business. Inflation is hitting Americans from all angles. It is no surprise that economic confidence is dismal at best.

Grocery prices have increased by 25% over the past four years. The cost of gasoline jumped 49.6% in 2021 and has decreased less than 2% in any given year since. In Washington state, gas is up nearly 6% compared to a year ago and up more than 10% in just the past month.

The inflation crippling consumers isn’t just groceries and gas. Homeowner’s insurance premiums in 2023 were up 11.3% on average nationally. In 25 states, the annual increase was at least 10%. In Florida, which has been battered by hurricanes, the rates have increased more than 40% in five years. As a result, a growing number of people have been forced to sell their homes, and others are taking gigantic risks by going without insurance, as they cannot pay the higher bills.

The implications are significant for everyday Americans. As Steve Forbes explains, “The people who are hurt the most are those with the least.”

Patrice Onwuka, director of the Center for Economic Opportunity at the Independent Women’s Forum, argues, “Massive federal spending during the pandemic, funded by the government printing money and flooding the economy to spur spending, lit the fuse for prices to accelerate.”

The policies of the Biden administration bear much of the blame for the dramatic downward economic spiral, yet who put Joe Biden and his congressional allies in office? It was the American people who voted for individuals bent on big government, with its associated tax increases, bloated regulatory agenda, and attack on enterprise. Far too many Americans have fallen prey to “equity” talking points and false promises, while in reality, they are far worse off financially as a result of Bidenomics.

Consider that Americans exit their K-12 schooling around age 18, at which point they are eligible to vote. Since public education has maintained a near-monopoly for decades, most Americans have not been granted another primary and secondary schooling option than attending their residentially assigned district public school. In fact, the U.S. K-12 public education system is the largest government-controlled monopoly in the world, other than state-owned monopolies in China, with spending nearing $1 trillion per year.

With roughly 52 million public-school children in America, teachers’ unions receive hundreds of millions of dollars a year in members’ dues. They use a sizeable portion of that money to exert political influence by funneling dues to Democrats’ political campaigns. For example, the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers’ union in the country with 1.72 million members, allocated more than 99% of its campaign contributions to Democrats during the 2022 election cycle.

The result, of course, is a public education system that funnels enormous sums of money almost exclusively to a single political party. In turn, teachers’ unions amass tremendous political power, including protection of the public-school monopoly, which ensures a steady population of dues-paying members to fill their coffers.

Teachers’ unions use their power to push irrelevant political demands, such as a moratorium on charter schools, defunding the police, and “Medicare for all.” Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they kept public schools closed for nearly three years in some parts of the country. In contrast, the vast majority of private schools returned to in-person learning by the fall of 2020, serving the best interests of their students.

The school closures were devastating for children and teenagers, causing immediate harm with long-term negative consequences. We often discuss learning loss, but the economic implications of school closures shouldn’t be overlooked.

According to McKinsey and Company research, students who experienced prolonged school closures “may earn $49,000 to $61,000 less over their lifetime owing to the impact of the pandemic on their schooling.” Furthermore, collectively, the “impact on the U.S economy could amount to $128 billion to $188 billion every year as this cohort enters the workforce.”

Keeping schools closed to advance political agendas isn’t the only way teachers’ unions have inappropriately leveraged their substantial power. They also employ their power to influence teacher education and school curricula to produce an electorate subscribed to the ideas of a single political party. It is nothing short of a monopoly over the American mind.

Ideas have consequences — for individuals and for society. Ask public-school students today about capitalism and free market enterprise, and you’ll find them condemning these economic systems that built our country while advocating and defending Marxism and socialism. As Voddie T. Baucham Jr. wisely noted, “We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.”

That is why empowering parents with education freedom for children is vitally important. While incredible progress has occurred as 12 states have enacted universal or near-universal school choice into law over the past few years, the war is far from over. The future of our country depends on it.

As Corey DeAngelis asserts, “Thirteen years of government indoctrination immensely harms society.” For a growing number of Americans, the harm has dire daily financial implications at the grocery store, gas pump, and beyond.