Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Miseducation of America

My career as a public school pupil, then student, and finally university graduate was an enjoyable excursion into fascinating and useful topics.  

These topics included, sounding out printed words, knowing what a square root is and how enzymes work, and other stuff. Professional educators crafted this training, er . . . education to prepare my peers and me for some kind of life—some kind other than a life of wealth and its financial security.

Rather, my schooling prepared me to be a productive employee. And that I have been ever since. During my schooling the thought occurred to me many times that schooling is good for many things, but turning middle-class kids, like me, into financially independent adults is not one of those things.

The observation was underscored recently, somewhat painfully, when I acted on the advice of an acquaintance who recommended the book, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” by investor Robert Kiyosaki. The book contains advice on investing and wealth acquisition and management. It offers simple, understandable explanations of income, expenses, assets, liabilities, balance sheets and the various ways in which these things relate to one another and how to manage those relationships. The book might be a useful component of a public-school curriculum.

But, besides the sounding out of printed words, the derivation of square roots and the chemistry of enzymes, there is no room, evidently, in public schooling curricula, for instruction in achieving competence managing financial investments and achieving financial security. Public schooling might have worthwhile objectives, but the financial savvy and independence of its graduates are not among those objectives. Regrettably.

Regrets aside, it’s time to bring on the derivatives, rehypothecation, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, structured investment vehicles, and even the securitization of subprime mortgages. And teach kids what this [bleeping] stuff is!

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