The System Breeds What The System Needs

Our son has just started college. We are VERY excited for this new beginning for him.

His high school years were a complete write-off: a year of strikes followed by three years of Covid.

Last year, I returned to college to participate in a program called ‘Music and Digital Media’. This was a much tougher decision for me, but I needed to do something with myself following my decade-long foray into the alcohol business (lesson: DON’T).

Suffice to say, the last year or so has been swirling with conversations about post-secondary schools and their focus.

When I walk the halls, it’s readily apparent that the programs that get the vast majority of funding: business schools and sports.

The system breeds what the system needs.

Our ‘system’ needs people that grind numbers, generate ad campaigns and push products on a population that is trying to come to grips with the simple idea that a finite Earth cannot sustain infinite growth.

And yet, economics hasn’t changed. We still teach a pile of bullshit excuses to make our basic system function: externalities don’t add up (of course, they do); other things are equal (they’re not); consumers make decisions using ‘perfect information’ (while we have to figure out which truth is a lie); and companies can do things without making other people worse off (bullshit!).

Our system needs business graduates to ensure that the same process continues over and over again so our system continues to breed graduates from economics and business programs, trades people and marketing associates.

STEM is a big word that every policy planner gets all excited about: Science, Tech, Engineering, Math.

Only recently, the A for ARTS was added giving us STEAM.

You see, you can’t build without a dream. You can’t design without creativity.

We are all staring at the polycrisis, with most of us feeling overwhelmed by what each one of us is supposed to do.

I have little faith that just business schools, marketing departments and economics programs are going to save us from ourselves.

At some point (hopefully sooner rather than later), we all need to re-evaluate our emphasis on business schools and trades and remind ourselves that every time a young person (or an older one like me) enters a school, our first priority should be making them more human and not just consumers.

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