Our educational system is a major factor in stopping future thinking

Peter Thiel in his conversation with Francis Fukuyama in A Conversation with Peter Thiel comments

The rapid rise in inequality has been an issue that the Right has not been willing to engage. It tends either to say it’s not true or that it doesn’t matter. That’s a very strange blind spot. The government is doing the same for more, or doing less for the same. There’s a very big blind spot on the Left about government waste and inefficiency. The common blind spot, which we’re less likely to discuss as a society: technological deceleration and the question of whether we’re still living in a technologically advancing society at all.

There is a link between technological deceleration and increasing cynicism and pessimism about politics and economics. Thieil notes the present has not lived up to the lofty expectations. Advanced economies  fundamentally grow through technological progress, and as the rate of progress slows, there will be less growth.

Thiel pints our that the United States has today is an extremely big government, a quasi-socialist government, but without a five-year plan, with no plan whatsoever.If there is going to be a government role in getting innovation started, people have to believe philosophically that it’s possible to plan.

The economy has shifted from manufacturing to non-tradeable services.We need to people aware of the need to compete globally by using  resources that encourage people to think globally.

Yet there is a psychosocial education bubble. Wide public buy-in has leads to education being overvalued because it’s linked to future expectations that are unrealistic.

Education is similar to the tech bubble of the late 1990s, which assumed crazy growth in businesses that didn’t pan out. The education bubble is predicated on the idea that the education provided is incredibly valuable. In many cases that’s just not true. Here and elsewhere people have avoided facing the fact of stagnation by telling themselves stories about familiar things leading to progress. One fake vector of progress is credentialing—first the undergraduate degree, then more advanced degrees. Like the others, it’s an avoidance mechanism.

Thiel  asks how you could allocate money for the improvement of education and concludes that there was no way to do it. “Today, the courageous thing for the government to do would be to aggressively tilt against the prevailing psychology, to encourage the pursuit of non-college vocational careers.”

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