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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Unintended consequences of a recession.

Everyone by now, knows, that a recession can be a very painful thing to endure. It almost seems as if God has turned his back on the lot of the us, and focusing his energies on another planetl with hopes of cultivating it with a new form of biped and the beasts that it will master.

No one would blame him either, as we have done a fine job with this one over the course of the last 100 years.

In any case, snarky sarcasm and cynicism aside and while some may feel that way, God is still very much alive and in good spirits while his forces of a social nature, run its course.

While some may think of forces of nature in the real and natural terms; i.e., hurricanes and earthquakes, there are other forces of nature that are less seen, but, rather, felt and experienced through daily social life and within the economy.

They, like natural forces of nature, have their own direct impact and furthermore, unintended consequences that when you really sit and think about it, when the dust settles and when that times comes upon us, it is an obvious effect of what took place prior.

A recession, as with natural forces, is no different with regard to the notion of direct consequences, effects and impact.

I love it when my mind finds time to wander on issues that can either be quantified, or easily observed. It gives my readers a time to think on what may be in store or to what is actually brewing in the undercurrent. Also, it allows persons to see the social fabric and how it is changing, in real time, whether they agree whole hearted or not and identify that with what took place as a result of other social phenomena.

More importantly, it is a fresh look at the landscape through a social lens, in an attempt to see how the issues observed, will impact the economic landscape- the trends and tastes and how they shift due to factors and stimuli.

Take for example the Baby Boomer Generation. A generation, marked with excess and an understanding of the possibilities of the new frontiers of liberties.

Their generation, which spanned the years of 1943 to 1960, was seen to have been created as a direct result of the slowdown of the world economy, due to the Second World War- a painful recessionary period, which caused their pre-war parents, to be a little more cautious about their finances and held closer to their faith.

Boomers, in turn, rejected these ideas- as all next generations do when faced with the fascinations of modernity and constrictive social concepts- and sought about not only financial wealth and capitalism, but freedoms in sex, religion and personal development- the affects of which are felt all the way down through Generations X through Z.

No doubt, this current recessionary period has its own brand on the social fabric. In fact, it may define what it is to be a Generation X, Y or Z. It’s a force that has a mind of its own. A contagious state of being, which can be both positive and negative- depending on the moral compass of the people who have to live in this world, post crisis.

Take for example another phenomenon unfolding right before our eyes; the issue of education- not only the quality of education, but the current and contemporaneous socio-economic characteristics of education.

Education is not the only issue that is changing due to the state of the economy. For example, management practices, re-alignments in rights and priorities, most importantly health care and immigrant rights, sexual preferences and the changes in the domination of the gender roles in the society, are issues that are larger issues within themselves, but are too affecting mass social attitudes and preferences.

But, education is a little starker as the mutual concern for the access to education, and particularly education of strong cultural desire that is seen as valuable. is one in which we can examine by outputs- scholastic achievements and cultural behaviour within the school system.

We all know of the direct consequences of the economy on education- loss of jobs, will and do indicate that less people have a chance to go to private schools and are foregoing college.

However, what is less examined is the issue of how these persons, of perhaps different, previous social strata and cultural characteristics are performing and will perform in their new, involuntary environment.

Will the persons who are put into the public school system, be” dumbed down” due to inferior teaching? Will they, also, have a net positive effect on their peers by bringing a new level of competition? In the future, will they, in turn, rebel against the system because of a new and educated understanding of what circumstances caused their stunt in development?

How would all of this, affect the work force 10 years later? Will employers have a greater pool of under trained personnel to choose from? Will employers receive net benefits, especially in the lower skilled sectors due to the previous diffusion of knowledge diffusion, brought in by once private school students to the public sector who pushed their contemporaries to be a little better?

How will that shape the economy moving forward? How would these factors, impact the current state of technology and information access to the ordinary person? Would it even make a difference?

To begin to answer these questions, one must only look at and track the performance of the demographics of students outlined- former private school students and current and lifelong public students.

Are grades of former private school students suffering in the public school system? Are the grades of lifelong public school students improving? Is behaviour, generally, better or worse; i.e., are tamed social behaviour of private school students, having a net effect on their lifelong public school counterparts or vice versa?

With these parameters, we can begin to look at what needs changing and what doesn't. What also may be a good place to begin analysis, is in whether or not public school students are performing and behaving at a higher level on their part time jobs- if they have one- or are they, generally, less focused and more disruptive?

While there are litanies of issues to which leaders- management, political and civic- must focus in order to make the necessary interventions, trying to imagine ourselves as the Nostradamus of our times, won't hurt.

Especially if we use previous experiences, to gauge what would likely be scenarios from natural human tendencies and behaviour, in order to shape our intervention methods to impact a greater, positive, end result.
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