Showing posts with the label Enlightenment Now

The "We" Vote in Quebec

Les Patriots  Today is la  Journée nationale des patriotes   in Québec .   (Prior to 2003 it was  Dollard des Ormeaux  Day in celebration of the garrison commander who died fighting the Iroquois [Haudenosaunee]  at the Battle of Long Sault in 1660. Times change.)  In the ROC (the Rest of Canada) today is  Victoria Day  (in honour of Queen Victoria). In popular lore,  les patriots  are remembered as French peasants battling their English overloads.  This version of history is at least partially true; however, some leaders of the rebellion in Lower Canada (today Quebec) were English (notably  Wolfred Nelson  and his brother,  Dr. Robert Nelson ), some  members of the upper class--opposing  les patriots -- were French Canadian seigneurs , and, at the same time (1839), a similar rebellion of English-speaking farmers was taking place against the ruling-elite  Family Compact  in Upper Canada for the same reasons--demanding representational government. In Quebec, history is o

Is Education the Answer to Economic Inequality? Not in the USA.

Education can't solve economic inequality When my guru forwarded Nick Hanauer 's article in The Atlantic , " Better Schools Won't Fix America ," I devoured it enthusiastically.  Hanauer, a wealthy American philanthropist, with considerable credentials as a patron of education in the USA, was disavowing the dogma that education can erase the income gap--a dogma he calls "educationalism."  Hanauer's criticism of his  cohorts in the 1% is scalding.  "Educationalism," Hanauer writes, "appeals to the wealthy and powerful because it tells us what we want to hear: that we can help restore shared prosperity without sharing our wealth or power." Global education versus American education The article does not devalue education, but debunks a generalized notion that education alone can solve economic inequality.  His argument, in a nutshell, is that "great public schools are the product of a thriving middle class, not the othe

Why Are the Poor Always with Us? "Moral Hazard."

The Poor Are Always with Us “The poor are always with us.”  What a discouraging declaration!  More disturbing still, it is attributed to Jesus Christ.  Although the details vary from one gospel to another, Mary of Bethany (some say Mary Magdalene) was pouring expensive oil on Jesus’s feet (in some versions on his head) when his disciples complained  (some say Judas specifically) that the money could have been used to feed the poor.  (The Gospel of Matthew suggests that this incident is what caused Judas to betray Jesus.) Moral Hazard Why are the poor always with us?  Consider  “ moral hazard .”  “Moral hazard,” according to Alan Blinder in After the Music Stopped:  The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead , “has nothing to do with morality.”  The concept originated in the 18th century in the insurance industry and suggests that having insurance might encourage risky (and therefore immoral?) behaviour.   Today the concept is very much with us as ins