Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gettin' Schooled

More reading . . . I checked a book out of the library last week that, as it turns out, is a high school Economics textbook. Basic Economic Principles, it is called. I have thought for a long time that I really need to understand economic issues better, and exploits of the Obama administration have strengthened my resolve.

I just finished the book a few minutes ago, and in my reading of it, I have come to a few conclusions/realizations. One -- every high school student should be required to take an economics course. This is too important a topic for an American citizen to have little or no understanding of it. Shame on me for waiting this long to get better-informed.

Two -- I am SO not made to be a business person. The general principles I was good with. But, for example, as I read the section on production design, just imagining myself having to deal with such issues on a daily basis started to give me heart palpitations.

Three -- my personal "American experience" is more out of the norm than I realize. For instance, they had a pie graph showing the level of education of the U.S. Labor Force in 1996. Only 25.1% had a bachelor's degree or more. Another 25% had some college, but no degree. So, half of the labor force had not been educated beyond high school. In my life, there was always the unspoken belief that a bachelor's degree was the minimum expectation. Whaddya know -- I'm a minority.

Four -- economics is complicated. Basic principles are simple, but putting them into practice involves people and values and lots of personal issues. Is it unfair if a small percentage of the population has a high percentage of the nation's money? Or is it more unfair if people who have managed to earn a lot of money are "punished" for their success by having it taken away involuntarily? Is living below the poverty level a cause for shame? What about living in affluence? What constitutes "equality of opportunity", and how do we achieve that?

The rancor and demonization that happens between conservatives and liberals on these issues are completely uncalled for. None of this is as simple as either of them think. And neither side is as corrupt, selfish and immoral as either of them suggest. We all want the same things . . . we all want the best for every American citizen . . . we just have different ideas for how to get there.

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