How to keep large numbers of people poor and unhappy in an otherwise prosperous nation? How to aim humans into lives of violence, crime, prison, teenage motherhood, mutual abuse, and generally meaningless existence?

One part of the answer: while folks are young, encourage them to minimize their education. Let them form cliques which fight against personal growth, self-defined groups to tease those who study hard. Tell them not to struggle against difficulties. Push them toward the easiest classes, toward just getting by. Make their schools inferior: don't pay for good teachers, adequate facilities and equipment, modern textbooks, or decent learning environments. Let it be clear to these erstwhile students that they are second-class, that most of them are not going to do well, and that they've just got to serve their time before they can escape.

The antilearning subculture that develops is a key driver in a larger social system of unemployment or low-paying jobs (no qualifications for anything better) and personal discrimination ("justified" by retrospective statistics). Once the feedback loops and disincentives get well-established, only a few individuals will break out via exceptional strength of will and herculean effort.

In contrast, imagine what would happen if, for a single generation, huge investments could be made to demolish the antilearning box on the flowchart. How would a society react to millions of smart, eager, highly-educated young people --- utter stereotype-breakers --- when they began appearing in the workforce and moving up in their organizations? Jails would begin to empty, neighborhoods would begin to improve, and countless positive experiences would begin to smash negative prejudices.

Economically, what's the payback time for such a space-program-scale investment? (I estimate less than 50 years, counting productivity enhancements and savings on welfare.) Morally, what excuse is there for not making it? And in the meantime, personally, individual acts and choices by every one of us can push the system toward greater justice for all, bit by bit, day by day.

Friday, June 30, 2000 at 19:48:58 (EDT) = 2000-06-30

TopicSociety - TopicThinking

(correlates: UncivilServants, BeingThere, 2007-09-19 - Paint Branch Trot, ...)