Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- John Cameron highlights the importance of liberal arts education - as well as the fact that only a few people (who happen to nicely coincide with the Wall government's base) stand to benefit from a citizenry with less of a tendency toward critical thinking:
But anyone who can think critically – a liberal arts value, ironically enough – can see that there’s way more to this issue than simply a matter of that right-wing bugaboo, the Bloated Bureaucratic Salary. There’s issues of university transparency (Why is the public and university community dealing with the budget shortfall late and learning about cuts to departments secondhand?), issues of lax government funding (Why has the Saskatchewan government, which proudly touts the Saskatchewan advantage and the unimpeded, juggernaut-like growth of the Saskatchewan economy, been consistently shorting the universities by a paltry four million each for the last five years?), issues of societal attitude towards universities and university education (Why are the liberal arts and fine arts the first ones to get targeted? What purpose did changing the engineering faculty’s name to include the ominous-seeming qualified noun “Applied Sciences” serve? Who benefits from the university’s shift from philosophical educations to vocational ones? What benefits are there to that, exactly?).

If we care at all about the liberal arts and what they stand for – if we believe there is value in having people in our society trained in the vocation of parsing the world and trying to figure out ways to make the arcs of history and politics and language and thought make sense for the average person, the way we believe there is value in having people who know how to build wells and how to keep the books of a small business in line – then we won’t let the discussion stop at an infographic, and if I can be blunt then we shouldn’t allow the discussion to start there. Scrapping over a few thousand dollars a year isn’t going to change the way we perceive the humanities, nor is it going to save the humanities. What it will do is keep us from trying to figure out who benefits from the humanities being cut, being de-emphasized, being discarded and ultimately forgotten – and how they benefit.
- Lawrence Martin rightly notes that there are plenty of available means to investigate Robocon - and that we should expect both the media and Elections Canada to treat deliberate vote suppression as a top priority in deciding how to allocate resources.

- Dan Leger writes that we should see a leader's willingness to say "I don't know" or "I was wrong" as a sign of rather than political weakness. But he also hints at a larger issue that I've already discussed in making the point that we shouldn't set up our political system to demand the impossible from leaders:
Yes, politicians should be consistent and maintain clear ideals. But they shouldn’t get beaten up simply for being human.
- Finally, pogge points out that the age of austerity doesn't apply to the financial sector any more in Canada than elsewhere.

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