Unemployment and the Economy

The European Central Bank is fixed on keeping inflation low — employment isn’t under its purview.  The US Federal Reserve has a dual mandate, but employment is always secondary (or, more often, ignored).  The Guardian today notes record world unemployment figures:  In reality unemployment makes the stock market and the financial sector happy — it means that labor costs can be suppressed more easily (note the flat-line in American wages since the 1970s — despite rising productivity) and inflation doesn’t eat away at profits and investments.  What does this have to do with education — one of the common right-wing arguments is that this is “structural unemployment” — that is, lack of workers with adequate skills.  The evidence for this is not there (there’s an optional reading on my syllabus on this).  Alan Greenspan  suggests the problem is low test scores among young people as opposed to baby boomers — though Greenspan has also admitted that his model of reality is flawed — in the sense of being inconsistent with reality.

If we problematize the idea that education is all about (and only about) preparing people for jobs (that aren’t there, or that don’t acknowledge or allow the use of what is learned in school) — how might we reconstruct it’s aims?

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