Economics, Business and Education

The School of Economics at UNSW (Uni of New South Wales) was renamed The Australian School of Business. This sums up the prevailing attitude that degrees are about personal advancement and the peculiar interests of corporations.

Economics used to be about more than this. The 1828 edition of Webster’s dictionary contains a definition for political economy that seems to longer apply:

“Political economy, the administration of the revenues of a nation; or the management and regulation of its resources and productive property and labor. Political economy comprehends all the measures by which the property and labor of citizens are directed in the best manner to the success of individual industry and enterprise, and to the public prosperity.”

While this doesn’t say much about technology or the environment, it tries harder than modern definitions:

(1) The social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services
(2) The study of how the forces of supply and demand allocate scarce resources

Nice and short – leave out all that messy stuff about “public prosperity” and focus on the market: the KPIs are simpler to understand, and it is so damned hard to measure girly things like “livability”, “standard of living”, “happiness”, “social capital”, “environment degradation”.

Not only has the teaching of economics been dumbed down but the same people (it all started with Hilmer) have been dumbing down everything else as well. It has been going on so long that we have pretty much lost the ability to manage our technological selves.

Engineering de-skilling at the corporate level is so severe that very large organisations have less ability no than in the past (they need more!). For instance Energex with 2.5 million customers don’t employ a single Electronics Engineer.

The word “research” is now applied to the process of Googling. It no longer requires a creative component, and PhDs are awarded to people who simply collate.

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