Thursday, June 13, 2024

#165 / A Vital Life Skill

A front page article in the April 17, 2024, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle was published under this headline: "A vital life skill: Managing money." There was a "subhead," too: "Kids get early lesson at Oakland school - leaders want more." 

If you click the link provided in the paragraph above you may, or may not, be able to read the story. If The Chronicle paywall lets you pass, I think it's a worthwhile report. However, what the story prompted me to think about was not how to get more education on money management into our elementary schools - not that I don't think that is both desirable and even "vital." 

What Jill Tucker's article in The Chronicle made me think about is how much "adult" education we need on exactly the subject that the Oakland school system is now teaching at the elementary school level. 

We are, we would like to think - and we should be - a "self-governing" nation. That means that "we" (all of us) are in charge - or should be - of what happens in our local communities, and what happens at the state and national level, too. 

But isn't it true that most of us don't really have any idea of what is actually going on (even in our local communities)? If we're honest, I think we'd have to stipulate that we, the people, don't actually have any grasp on lots of the most vital subjects, and specifically including, without doubt, how our governments are "managing" our money. 

Do we  want "self-government"? Do we want what most people call "democracy"?

If we do, we had better start educating ourselves on how our money is being managed. 

After we do that, and can properly evaluate just what is going on now, we may well want to make changes that seem appropriate.

Once we actually know what's going on, in other words, we can start exercising our political prerogatives to decide whether that is actually what we want! I mean, if we want "self-government." Candidly, I don't think even our elected officials actually understand what's happening (in the arena of governmental money management, in particular). In fact, we are "electing the people, who hire the people, who make our decisions for us." NOT, exactly, the way "self-government" is supposed to work. That sounds a lot more like the "deep state," or the "administrative state."

Here is a local note: I am informed that the budget proposed for the next fiscal year, in Santa Cruz County, is premised on the idea that the Board of Supervisors should borrow money (obtain bond funding) to maintain or increase current spending levels for ongoing governmental activities. This kind of approach to governmental finance is a big-time topic of debate at the federal level. Lots of people think that doing this kind of thing is an example of "living beyond our means," and that we shouldn't do that.

"Managing" our money IS a "vital life skill." My suggestion as follows: Let's educate our children - definitely. But let's start educating ourselves, too. 

If we want to be "self-governing," that is!

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