Sunday, January 02, 2011

On learning opportunities

Naturally, I approach the idea of economic education from a different point of view than Anthony Furey, who whether out of personal belief or employer mandate pairs it with the traditional QMI dose of mandatory anti-tax ranting. But the idea does deserve some discussion, if only because of the obvious importance of setting the right guidelines for public education.

After all, Furey's example of an organization carrying out the type of education he sees as valuable is one with a business-heavy list of supporters - and which helpfully provides young and interested Canadians with embarrassingly-outdated corporatist cheerleading like this.

So I'd add the caveat to Furey's proposal that any genuine effort at economic literacy would have to include at least some mention of the divergent interests of big business and the public at large, as well as the means for consumers to avoid the traps so often set by the corporate sector. Which might in turn lead to appropriate public skepticism about big business' perpetual campaign to slash or privatize public services in order to redirect more profits (at a lower tax rate) into its own coffers.

From that standpoint, the most compelling argument for making sure the project originates with government actors is that many of the other "partners" involved in the current non-profit version have an obvious interest in shaping or limiting what Canadians actually know. And while the Harper Cons may unfortunately serve as a compelling example of a government that's willing and eager to serve as a marketing arm of the financial sector, on the balance there's a much better chance of producing positive results if the concept is moved primarily into public hands.

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