Do you remember that great comment from James Carville? I wonder if he knows how deeply universal that truth is. Why don’t educators put this at the top of their list of the basic education each person should have? Could it be they don’t know?
Economics is survival for all living creature on the planet. It is true that only humans economic activities like exchange money for goods and services and use a banking system to facilitate the process. However, these are merely emergent properties of the economic reality of life itself. Economics is survival. Not knowing its importance to our well-being is a serious educational shortcoming.
As chapter 67 points out:
Notice, there is no mention of the 3R’s in chapter 67. As important as reading, writing, and arithmetic are, their significance pales in comparison with economic knowledge. Few things are more stressful than the failure of an individual’s or a family’s economic health. When a cultures’ economy goes awry, political upheaval follows without fail, as history from pre-Roman times onward shows us. If you know your world history, you have countless examples to ponder. (I’d offer some but I’d probably get off course).
Politicians on both sides (currently Obama and Romney) tell their fervent supporters what they want to hear, not the rational whole truth, economic or otherwise. Given the low priority economics has in education, I expect most politicians don’t know all that much about this themselves. Either way, politicians only include as much truth as they feel they can get away with… and they skew the facts as much as they can get away with as well. Why?
Because, biologically speaking, we feel first, and think second. The feeling drives thinking. First desire and worry bubble up from emotion (the needs and fears we feel). Next, we rationalize our point of view to support those emotional biases. Economic common sense (reality) is the first casualty of the foggy corner into which we dream ourselves. We succumb to an illusion that we think we know, when in fact, we only think what we feel… and we feel, “Sure, I can afford this. I spend now and pay later”. Chapter 71 points out the pitfall of thinking we know… Realizing I don’t know is superior, not knowing this realization is a defect.
The point is, this behavior, made possible by modern financial foolishness. Credit flies in the face of nature. Nature is 100% pay-as-you-go. Sure, I imagine we could bend the rules of nature a little and not suffer greatly; but we don’t know when to stop. Given the opportunity, gluttony rules our behavior. As I’ve often said, in the wild we’d have no opportunity for gluttony. Civilization allows us to indulge ourselves till it hurts. The arrogance of thinking, either as individuals or as a culture, that we can bypass natural law is profound. Well, that is why Taoist say, Realizing I don’t’ know is better; not knowing this knowing is disease.
NPR’s Planet Money program did a few short segments on economics and politics. Listen to them in order. Each is only a few minutes, and may be an eye opener for anyone less informed, or conveniently placing their head in the sand, which seems to be a huge percentage of the population. Again, shouldn’t basic economics be taught from kindergarten on up? I did so with my two boys and it really helps them stay grounded.
Well, enough whining. Now, on with the show…