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Is Capitalism Destroying the Educational System?

I’m excited about this one because I know I’m going to hear about it.

I woke up this morning and followed my daily routine of scrolling through “Your Morning Addiction.” – a list of articles on Addicting Info posted by Justin Rosario. I happened upon an article by Ann Werner titled The GOP Myth – We Can’t Afford A Better America. One statistic she used in the article struck me. She stated:

“among nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): In 2003 the US ranked 15th of 29 in reading literacy, 21st of 30 in scientific literacy, 25th of 30 in mathematics, 24th of 29 in problem solving.”

This made me think. Are we really that poor at education? Not that it would surprise me. I decided to look into this more deeply. So I looked up the OECD statistics. There are tons of statistics about OECD countries. I decided to look at the overall picture of each area instead of the drilled down statistics that Ms. Werner used. Here are some of the key statistics that I reviewed:

  • Reading: U.S. ranked 18 out of 65 (on the low end of above average)
  • Science: U.S. ranked 23 out of 54 (average)
  • Mathematics: U.S. ranked 31 out of 65 (below average)

  • Income inequality: The U.S. ranks 5 out of 28 in income inequality

How do we arrive at these statistics? The answer is our love of capitalism. First, let me define capitalism for those who know the term, but don’t really understand the concept. Capitalism is a system characterized by the private ownership of capitol goods. This is different from a free market, which is a market in which prices are determined by unrestricted competition. These concepts often work in conjunction, but not always. In this post, I’m speaking primarily about capitalism.

Our country’s love for capitalism has led to disdain for socialism. For some reason, people have developed this idea that we can’t have a mixture of the concepts in our country. They believe that we can’t have socialized healthcare and education with most of our economy being capitalistic. First, that’s ridiculous. There is no reason that we have to operate on absolutes. We don’t have to be completely socialist or completely capitalistic. In fact, the more polarized we become, the worse our economy will become.

The problem with the push for capitalistic education is that capitalism doesn’t offer incentives to properly educate the general population. Think about this. I own a business. I know how to create Product A. If I also teach you how to create Product A you may create your own company or improve upon my design. So I only want to teach you enough for you to create a component of Product A. Then I can hire you and a bunch of other people who can create different components of Product A. Then if you improve the component of Product A that you know how to make, your improvements also belong to me. Your lack of knowledge actually benefits me. But I will teach my heirs how to create Product A so that my lineage can continue to benefit from the production and innovation. There is a bastardization of a popular quote that sums up this idea:

 “Sell a man a fish and you can feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you ruin a wonderful business opportunity.” (author in dispute – possibly Karl Marx)

As this practice continues, the rich, who are making it very difficult for the poorer people to become educated, continue to get richer. The poor, who have a hard time getting a decent education, remain poor. Even those who do manage to get a decent education typically come out so indebted to the rich that they remain poor. This problem is evident in the current trend of college graduates who come out of college with very high debt. The amount of debt actually outweighs the higher income gained through education. The rich, who don’t have debt when they complete their education, don’t have that debt. They enjoy the benefits of their education and higher pay.

Can you imagine what our country would be if we all had access to higher education without worrying about the cost? We would create a society of educated innovative individuals. Our economy would grow as products were improved or developed. Competition would become fiercer, making the free market concept beneficial to the average American, not just the rich. We would be staring down the road towards a better future.

I know this is terrifying to some of you. The rich have worked very hard to convince people that anything socialized is evil and will ruin our country. I’m not saying that capitalism is wrong; I’m just saying it’s not right for every facet of society. If you learn anything from my blogs, I hope it is to question what you are told. Think for yourself. Realize that everyone has an agenda. My motives are that I’m a middle class American who would love to see a society where people, such as my children, and myself can get educated without selling their lives to a bank. The rich have their own motives. They benefit by keeping the average American undereducated. It gives them a workforce and makes the rest of us dependent on them. Those of us who are brash enough to get an education will end up giving them back the extra money we earn from our education when we pay them for our loans.

In a country as wealthy and powerful as the U.S., why are our educational statistics so poor? Why is there such a high level of income inequality? Why are half of our college graduates unable to find jobs? Why is has the default on student loans reached $8 billion? Why do students in our country need to borrow $1 trillion to get their education? The answer is right in front of you. It’s in the system we’ve created. The system we love so much. The system that is failing.




  1. Pingback: The Education Crisis | The Evolution of Reason - March 24, 2015

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