By Yvonne Reynolds,
Déjà vu – All Over Again
I returned to the Caribbean (my first home) after spending thirty plus years in America (my second home) and sadly realize I am wide awake in a Rip Van Winkle world.
- The education system (basic school-preK/K, primary, secondary, tertiary) has changed little, most not at all..
- The vast majority of politicians are still shortsightedly and brazenly appropriating taxpayers hard earned money
- Politics still attracts the ethically bankrupt and intellectually ill-equipped, devoid of negotiation skills, their claim to fame – longevity in politics or relationships to past/present politicians
- Political leaders with an ephemeral vision, living in a privileged vacuum, clueless about program planning, implementation, and evaluation, ripe for external manipulation
- Ubiquitous church overlords, blinded by a deeply embedded religiosity, unashamedly but secretly colluding with current power-brokers so as to maximize their own power
- The mis, under, un-educated electorate who still myopically vote with colour filtering butts and not thinking heads
- A society still separated into apartheid communities – legacied haves and have-nots
- Nationals tiresomely treading stagnant, putrid water, in limbo, in an ignorance-induced high, passively awaiting their saviour
- Generational masses decaying from a lack of critical thinking, sustainable planning, knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation skills
- Not much new thinking or new ideas – little creativity or logistical thinking – from civil servants – brainwashed by irrelevant foreign theories that do not fit their reality
- People baying at a moon of inferior light and seemingly unreachable distance
I dare not go back to sleep, the children need us.
Leading Is Not For The Ignorant Or Feint (sic) Of Heart.
Legendary leaders produce transformative nation changing policies. Leading is a heavy messianic responsibility comprising earned foundational education knowledge and cognition, genuine citizenry love, loyalty to ideals and patriotism, innate wisdom, ambitious humility, discerning, presbyopic acuity, providential wit, and fortitude, with an arduous, indefatigable work capacity – not busy work but productive work. Leaders with a paucity of ideas and a pedestrian cognitive framework fail not only themselves but everyone who look to them for guidance and leadership.
Leaders, at whatever level of the political bureaucracy, must be expert at hunting and gathering. They should know when and how to prepare the fields, sow the seeds, harvest the grain, process and store the provision for future consumption. They should be knowledgeable about human husbandry, adept at domestic and global stalking, hunting, killing and winning life sustaining venison. Leaders are expected to be expertly cognizant in best practices for building secure shelters, as well as appropriating, creating and weaponizing acquired assets. Most importantly they must be able to employ winning national battle-plans that ensure the long-term safety and prosperity of their people.
Citizens and residents look to leaders as the keepers of their general welfare and entrust to them their present and future livelihood. I wish to emphasize the plurality of leadership in the modern age – the many links on the social impact governance chain. Leaders are only as good as the people surrounding them. Especially those designated to implement the delegated tasks of a unified mission. Civil society is created, maintained and expands via the dissemination, permeation and application of compounded knowledge (old and new) facilitated via the spread of education. Civilized societies accept the Lockean and Rousseau social contract governing a collective (electorate).
The Time Value Of Money (TVM)
It is an oft repeated saying that “Money makes the world go round”. In the bible, money is considered as “filthy lucre” (Titus 1:11), because of its power to corrupt. We have come a long way from bartering and shells. We are now headed towards a future electronic cashless world. “The value of money is determined by the demand for it, just like the value of goods and services.” Exchange valuation under-girds the financial industry with the time value of money a bedrock financial theory. “The Time Value of Money (“TVM”) is a concept on which the rest of finance theory rests on.”
TVM theory helps us understand and evaluate how decision-makers determined whether they will be winners or long-term losers. “Simply put, the time value of money is the idea that a particular sum of money in your hand today is worth more than the same sum at some future date.” Economic markets (bankers, financiers, researchers, government aides) use TVM to assess whether the public policies chosen and implemented by governments will be beneficial profit makers or destined to create liabilities that increase debt obligations and/or reduce economic growth. The value of money affects us all on a daily basis as it determines the prices we pay for our daily goods and services (e.g. food, gas). It directly impacts everyone’s cost of living: – producer (PPI-producer price index) and consumer (CPI-consumer price index). When prices go up, the value of our money has gone down, signaling a loss to our individual and collective assets and well-being.
Economic theories are helpful in understanding the push and pull of supply and demand, the impact of price on production and market changing disruptive creation. However, economic theories are re-invented when they seem incapable of explaining current reality, -once forecast as impossible. Once again, today’s real economic crisis (excessive inequality) is pushing for new solutions and theories. Epigenetics advances the theory of basic genetics by explaining how the environment changes DNA (de-oxy ribose nucleic acid) – the building blocks of all life. Valuation depends on current and future realities and is vulnerable to dominant factors pummeling the power framework that could fundamentally change the status-quo paradigm.
The financial cost of policy decisions made today can be calculated not only in present value terms but also in future evaluations – i.e. What will today’s policy decisions be worth in the future, based on the value of today’s money? Did we get suckered (over paid for the product today) or were we astute buyers of hidden treasures (future value)? Will the costs paid today transmogrify into benefits tomorrow?
“Future value and present value are monetary concepts that a business owner uses every day, whether he realizes it or not. The idea is simple: Money in your pocket today is worth more than the same amount received several years in the future. The difference is the effect of inflation and the risk that you may not actually receive the money you expect in the future.”
According to graduatetutor.com, money value declines due to the combined impact of three factors (1) inflation; (2) risks from cash flows or financial transactions; (3) opportunity costs of delayed capital. Inflation is simply when the supply of goods is smaller than the demand for it, or in other words, many people want a toy and some are willing to pay higher prices to get it at any cost. Cash flow and transactions’ risks is when you expect to sell off your stuff at certain prices but at the end of the day you still have a lot left, so the amount of money you thought you would have ain’t so, and you still have your rent and school fees to pay. Opportunity costs are the choices (e.g. to build here or not, to buy that or not) you made versus the alternative ones you could have made, and the associated consequences or rewards of your choice – sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
When a business chooses to invest money in a project — such as an expansion, a strategic acquisition or just the purchase of a new piece of equipment — it may be years before that project begins producing a positive cash flow. The business needs to know whether those future cash flows are worth the upfront investment. That’s why the time value of money is so important to capital budgeting.
Governments also need to know and must employ accounting experts (civil servants/consultants) to help them calculate, using economic formulas, whether the budgetary transactions/ investments (policies) they make will benefit the people they serve both in the present and the future. This is exactly why we entrust our leaders to craft policies that affect us all. We expect them to gather the data and analytics to be used as the evidence for decisions made. We do not expect subjectivity/guesses in these decisions we demand objectivity. Developed countries develop the qualitative and/or quantitative data analyses that enable transparency and justify accountability. The principles of equity and equality mandate open reciprocity and comprehensive due diligence.
Caribbean governments tend to believe they are above providing justification/evidence for the budgetary decisions they take. They arrogantly spurt out speeches filled with expensive policies made behind closed doors, using old (mostly failed/irrelevant) assumptions. They expect the citizenry to submissively and silently acquiesce to their pronouncements. Sorry but a new day has dawned – all over the world. You, the government, do not have carte blanche decision-making power. Taking from Peter to make Paul richer is no longer acceptable. Education expansion and social technology integration is beginning to pay dividends for the citizenry. Look around, Costa Rica, Finland and Singapore are models of what we (Caribbean nations) can become if we get serious about quality education provision for our children.
I was gladdened to see rebuttal articles to the most recent budget unveiled in Jamaica, challenging “trickle down economics” and “bubble up” economic growth expectations. In Antigua and Barbuda, groups of citizens are actively questioning the efficacy of certain public policies and budgetary allocations currently being implemented/expended, – demanding explanations, analytical evidence and answers for programs and projects thrust upon them. They need raw numeric data (dollars, list of variables/costs, assumptions, etc.) used for calculations, so they can themselves determine present values and future values, to thereby conclude whether their children will win or lose. “Trust but Verify”.
Weak links make a weak chain. Every sector of every Caribbean country must begin holding their government accountable for the decisions made in their name. Every government department must show the present and future values of the programs they choose to implement. Countries are not made up solely of wealthy corporations/big businesses/non-profits, nor are these entities the only ones who contribute to the nation’s revenues. Inequality gaps diminish economic growth. Regressive taxes strangle economic progress. Trade-offs for development and employment must now incorporate and/or filtered through new ideas and new thinking in this new age.
An educated workforce is the tide that lifts all boats and makes strong unbreakable linkages. An educated populace facilitates the making of right choices that set up improved change. Educated constituents are a check on the expansion of a corrupted rule of law where collaboration is suppressed by command and control. We must upgrade the numbers of our students leaving school with a quality education that is workplace ready.
Every primary and secondary school child should graduate from school knowing how to do the paper math calculations for present and future values, and create technology integrated code models [code.org]. I am an unapologetic one trick horse, an educator, who chose the education field and will die passionately embracing this field – win, lose or draw. Public policy planning and implementation as practiced within the education industry has provided a fulfilling life purpose.
Radically changing teaching instruction as currently conducted or delivered in classrooms, is an obsessive goal. Smarter teachers = higher student achievement. We must never be satisfied with “good enough”, complacently accepting a reality where so many of our succeeding generations are failing in traditional mediocre schools, facing a future of low tech, low skilled, low wage jobs. Contributing to the betterment of present and succeeding generations is, to my mind, fighting a good fight, running a good life race, and keeping the faith of human development. [paraphrased from the bible –2 Timothy 4:7]. Let us all wake up and join in climbing the revolutionary ladder of human development.
The author is an educationist and instructional coach. She can be contacted at email@example.com. To read other articles on education go to conbelach.wordpress.com; or conbelach.blogpost.com.