The title of this blog is what creates everything from gang violence to economic upheaval. The solution is more complicated than extracting a higher percentage of wealth from the rich. The only solution is education, but there is a hurdle in that many parents seem to not want their children to be smarter, or educated outside of religious or idealistic barriers, or that they don’t want offspring wiser and more experienced than they are or don’t feel their children need to be.
Further, many parents see educated children as “terrifyingly enlightened” and therefore their children are able to make individually informed decisions that are likely to be more informed than the values promoted by their parents and peers.
The “education” in my own candid opinion is best served by teaching within some traditional basic structures (wrote memorization is NOT a bad thing, for example) enhanced by the expansion (or return to) creatives (music and art as mandatory) and physical education (during the school day) as mandatory. A strong focus on history, but with as many possible viewpoints on history as possible. The so called STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) curriculum is desperately needed in K-12, as well as college for the simple reason that “… those who do not understand technology and science are doomed to be controlled by those who do. ”
Education on this scale is hardly an easy path, but it is the ONLY path. A second and major hurdle comes from when the “baby boom” generation dies out, which it surely will do, what then? A world wide population drop? Not likely, but there will be a profound population drop in “first world” zones, as statistics are already reporting in many Eurozone countries. This will likely be the most massive shift in world wealth seen in some time, with fewer recipients of that wealth creating even greater concentration. And, whether or not those individuals will have any greater sense of civic duty than their parents, grandparents and so forth have shown is debatable.
Interesting fact: Canada is the one country in the world with the highest percentage of college graduates. How is this possible? It’s a short list… secondary education is comparatively inexpensive (by a long shot) and Universal Healthcare has been in place for nearly four decades. Visit Canada. See how it feels. Lots more arts and creative, lots more everything. Vitality in motion. Is consensus nearly impossible? Indeed, but no more so than any New England town meeting.
Alexander De Tocqueville (a classical liberal skeptical of the extremes of democracy) famously said about a young United States in his seminal book, Democracy in America: “…The Americans, on the contrary, are fond of explaining almost all the actions of their lives by the principle of interest rightly understood; they show with complacency how an enlightened regard for themselves constantly prompts them to assist each other, and inclines them willingly to sacrifice a portion of their time and property to the welfare of the state.”
And there it is and so it goes. Only as a “civilization, social and progressive” can we eradicate the social illnesses of the past and create an imperfect but nearly level playing field. We need to identify and support exceptional individuals and ideas, but not do so at the expense of crushing the majority.
It seems to me that the Scandinavian countries, no matter how flawed, understand this better than any other nations, with the possible exception of Canada.