I have posted before about the book The Servant Economy by Jeff Faux, but wanted to share this BookTV video with anyone out there who wants to watch it either in conjunction with reading his book or as some strange version of cliffnotes (warning – he doesn’t talk much about the details in the book, so the talk doesn’t “replace” reading in any way, but is interesting nonetheless).
The overwhelming evidence that our country’s jobs are declining and that pay for jobs is stagnant at best and in a sharp downward trend at worst may be the most important education issue of our lifetime. I don’t mean, by the way, that we need “more education” so people can get “better jobs” – I mean, that we need a broad and deep economic education from K-12, into higher education, and in all communities so that we understand the consequences of income inequality and can envision our country’s dark future if we don’t demand something different.
This is not about political parties. Jeff Faux says this well in his talk, and I regularly say this to teaches and principals I work with (though I’m not sure they believe me). Both U.S. political parties have opened the floodgates for global trade, enacted policies bad for U.S. workers, and – this is important – both parties are owned by corporate interests. The last point is one Jeff takes on in his talk – instead of proposing several potential action items, he proposes one: get corporate money out of politics. He suggests that we do this by organizing locally and state-by-state to propose a constitutional amendment that would reform campaign finance.
This is about money. And for some reason, it seems to me, that “money” is left nearly entirely out of curricula at all levels beyond learning to “count” money and occasionally some word problems in mathematics. But money has literally become the engine running our political, social, and economic engines of our country. He (and it is mostly a He) who has money gets to influence the policies governing what our social and political futures will be.
How can we begin the critical conversation about money and influence in elementary, middle, high, and postsecondary school? In community non-profits? In doctor’s office waiting rooms? In unemployment lines? At the park, library, playground and schoolyard?
Let’s at least start talking about it – and if folks will either read or watch videos of some of the most prominent economic voices of our time to educate ourselves about economics and the economic reality we’re living right now, we will at least have some of the language necessary to open up the conversations. And then we can also ask ourselves why most of us have no idea how to think of such things and have such discussions, why social class and any economics education beyond the “basics” of exploitative capitalism are not a part of curricula, and what we’re going to do to change it for our own collective good.