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Education needs to change, not the free market system
Dialogue with the Alter Ego on Pope Francis’ social analysis, drafted on Nov 27, published on Nov. 28, 2013
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    While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from
    the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the
    absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation.
    Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, Paragraph 56


Question of Alter Ego of Noah denkt™ (AE): Pope Francis recently published his first official paper on the State
of Church and Society. In Chapter Two, subsection I of his Apostolic Exhortation he addresses what he
perceives to be some of the major challenges of today’s world. His core argument is that the current
socioeconomic environment is “unjust at its roots” (59), and that the increasing gap between rich and poor is
unsustainable. In his opinion an ideological shift away from "laissez-faire" economics is necessary to overcome
the rampant consumerism, the social exclusion and the culture of indifference that characterizes our modern
day world. What does Noah denkt™ make of Pope Francis’s analysis?
Answer by Noah denkt™ (Nd): First of all, we agree with quite a few of his observations. We too believe that
“the hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries” and that
“the joy of living frequently fades” away. (52) We concur with him when he says that the prevailing culture,
unfortunately, “gives priority to the outward, the immediate, the visible, the quick, the superficial and the
provisional”. (62). We support his observation that current politicians do not seem to have sufficiently
understood the severity of the social challenges that we are faced with. (“I beg the Lord to grant us more
politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor!” (205). And we
even join in with him at his invitation to “turn to God and ask him to inspire their [i.e. “our”, insert by Nd] plans?”
(205) – While we share the sense of urgency that drives the Pope’s call for reform we strongly disagree with
him, when it comes to identifying the causes of today’s imbalances. We do not believe that it is due to financial
speculation and a "laissez-faire" economy that too many people find themselves on the sidelines. In our mind, it
is mainly due to the deficiencies of an overly abstract academic education that a majority of people can’t seem
to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that a free market offers to them.

AE: Could you expand on this a little more?
Nd: Well, most people come out of academic training feeling that they haven’t learn anything that truly helps
them to stand on their own two feet in this anonymous and alien marketplace which is now waiting for them .
The reason for that is that our academic education is still inspired by the old 19th century goal to create
employees and public sector workers rather than self-started entrepreneurs. That is why most academic
programs still favor impersonal theoretical knowledge over practical wherewithal. No wonder that the economy
consequently turns into an impersonal beast where corporate bureaucrats rule over maverick pioneers. To
change that you need to put the educational sector from its head onto its feet. Instead of forcing students to
make it through endless hours of abstract theory before they are finally being allowed to experience the
practical reality of what they have been taught, the teaching needs to start with the practical reality first and
take it to its theoretical foundations from there. The goal needs to be to give graduates a sense of confidence
not based on the diploma they have received but on the experience they have won from being part of this
educational process.

AE: But aren’t these changes already being implemented as we speak?
Nd: If so, it happens with homeopathic speed. The problem is that the teaching authorities are too much wired
in the traditional theoretic sense of education. That is why the changes they initiate come with too little creative
destruction.

AE: But Pope Francis seems to suggest that any kind of entrepreneurial initiative you show will only take you so
far if you start from being poor. In other words, he criticizes a system where it is virtually impossible for the poor
to gain recognition since the system largely requires that you are already established before any attention will
be given to you in the marketplace.
Nd: It is correct that the mere issue of credibility tends to favor those who are already established over those
who are not. And that is especially true for the financial sector. But then again, it is only human to place your
trust into those who are already known to you instead of those you don’t know. After all, you neither get elected
Pope if you are unknown and live in the doldrums. To achieve that you have to be a household name within the
electoral collegiate. Otherwise the cardinals won’t even think about  granting you the top job.

AE: That is exactly why governments need to intervene to re-balance some of the imbalances that are imbued
into human nature!
Nd: So you are saying that politics should work at least somewhat against human nature?

AE: A little bit, yes!
Nd: Alright, a little countering of natural human tendencies is fine. But don't do too much of that because that
will ultimately wreak more havoc on us than a "laissez-faire" ideology could ever have dreamed of.
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Keywords:

Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelli Gaudium, Pope Francis' views on free market ideology, Pope Francis'
views on financial markets, Pope Francis' views on capitalism, Pope Francis' social analysis, Pope
Francis' call for socio-economic reform, the increasing gap between rich and poor
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