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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Bread and circuses

source unknown

Imagine you are a fly on the wall listening to an informal chat among a few UN and EU bureaucrats. Over a quiet cup of coffee their conversation turns to education and what the world must do for its citizens.

“Obviously we need billions of highly educated people to solve numerous problems for humanity at large –“

“No we don’t.”

“Pardon.”

“We need peasants with only a basic education and without the wit to make trouble.”

“Too cynical - surely.”

“No - it's how things are. We have enough tech and we have enough science so we don’t need billions of educated people. A few million at most – say one percent of the global population. The rest are destined to be peasants so we may as well train them accordingly.”

“Well for one thing they won’t accept it.”

“They have no choice. We must educate the masses to be bystanders, which is what they are anyway. Bread and circuses – tried and tested and the only way it can be done. Should take a couple of generations max.”

“Too cynical.”

“Not really. What the hell will they do when the robots come, these billions of educated people? Watch movies all day? Do you paint your neighbour's house while he paints yours?”

“All the same –“

“We are not all the same though are we - you and I? We are not numbered among those billions. In reality the buck stops here so we have to do what is best for everyone, like it or not. I can’t say I like it particularly but I’m not prepared to duck my responsibilities.”

“I still say it won’t work.”

“Yes it will. There are only two basic policies any government can follow – war or bread and circuses. All governments must pursue one or the other so naturally enough a global government is stuck with bread and circuses. It’s our only option.”

2 comments:

Roger said...

The old debate - instruction versus education. Then scientists seem terribly inefficient - take them ages to discover some tiddly factoid and years to put it to use. Which is better for the economy, 1000 scientists or 1000 Xfactor winners? Worse still, out of 1000 students only one or two are likely to turn out anything interesting, whilst 1000 Xfactors will open oh, dozens of hairdressers.

A K Haart said...

Roger - it would be interesting to know how many scientists turn out something useful. Sometimes it is a group effort as in pharma, so hard to tell. Even so I suspect your 1 in 1000 is a good starting point.