The Institutionalization of Change

By October 13th, 2013

The Institutionalization of Change and the Importance of Individual, Not Collective, Action – U.S. Spending on Education Compared With China and India

by Mack W. Borgen

THE RELEVANCE OF REASON

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The Institutionalization of Change and the Precocious Need for Wisdom

In some of my prior blogs I have discussed both the necessity and the inevitability of change in an advanced democracy and modern economy. Indeed, a part of the reasoning which underlies my first two books is that change in American life is inevitable. It is institutionalized. Even though change can be delayed, and for some and for awhile, impeded or ignored by a wide range of emotions and defenses — by apathy or its near cousin, complacency; by exhaustion, or resignation; by ignorance, denialism, willful blindness, or stubborn incalcitrance; and even by withdrawal into the woods or behind gates and secure locks for those who have the inclinations and/or the means to do so — change will eventually arrive. It will be felt by all. It cannot be denied and can, only with great effort, be directed and controlled.

The corollary of this reasoning is that in order to influence the nature and direction of our society’s inevitable change, it is in our own self-interest to become not just informed, but, to the extent of our respective capacities, wise. When so written and when spoken aloud, such an encouragement “to become informed and wise” seems horrendously precocious and presumptuous. It has the stench of naivete — a statement of near definitional absurdity. And yet, as this is being written our federal government is closed and there is a real threat that America may default upon its debt. A need for wisdom may at first blush seem obvious, but it also seems to be in short supply amidst some individuals and groups. A call not just for action, but also for wisdom is exactly what we ask in the course of every political and economic and social debate. We may be purely trying to persuade in order to win an argument, to secure a vote, or to get a job, but we are asking — admittedly without using the “w” word– for people to informed and wise because it is American collective wisdom which is our best hope. And as if we need more of a challenge, individual action — even far more than collective action — it is in a sense our only hope.

But there is no short road home, and mere grumbling in the crowd won’t suffice. The resurgence and assertion of the informed and wise individual in American life — a form of one-by-one individualism which is separate from party affiliation and sometimes distanced from one’s own personal self-interest — is the only way home. Decisions need to be made and the right paths need to be selected. If we individually don’t participate and decide on those paths, they will be selected for us. Without the infusion of our own caution, prudence, and effort, the technology of our age and the growing sophistication  of its uses (and especially the tolls of marketing and communication) by those who aspire to control our political and economic systems will readily and skillfully fill the void. Be assured that these tools are normally and effectively used to sell products and agendas and to promote politicians and self-interest than they are used to promote reflection, understanding, and wisdom. Thus, the role of the individual remains important — even amidst our nation of more than 311,600,000 people. And as will be discussed in later articles , this is a good thing.

Based upon Borgen, M., The Relevance of Reason – Vol 1 – Business and Politics (2013), p. 15-16.

The Fact of the Day

Education Spending – U.S., Compared With China and India

The United States spends massively more per capita on education than either China and India. The combined government and private-household spending on education, in order, of the three following countries is as follows:

Ranking                    Country                            Total Education Spending                   Per Capita Education Spending

1.                       United States                               $980BB                                                       $3,145

2.                               China                                              $480BB                                                          $   357

3 .                               India                                               $180BB                                                          $   145

Possibly surprisingly, the U.S. education spending is “only” 5.7% of our GDP. Compared with other nations, this percentage places the U.S. 37th in the world in education spending as a percentage of GDP –considerably behind No. 8 Denmark (8.5%), No. 12. Sweden (7.7%$), and No. 17 Israel (6.4%) and slightly ahead of No. 46 U.K. and Mexico (both at 5.3%) and No. 78 South Korea (4.2%).

Borgen, M., The Relevance of Reason – Vol 2 – Society and Culture, p. 207 and p. 209, citing Silverstein, M., Singhi, A., “Can Universities Stay on Top?,” The Wall Street Journal, September 29-30, 2012 and referencing data from Boston Consulting Group BSG E4 Index and analysis; and United Nations Human Development Programme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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