Economic development 101, 102, etc.

I read this weekend a letter to the editor in a Jamaican paper and it really piqued my curiosity. A Mr. Spence wrote that “Wealth creation should be taught in schools”. He chastises politicians for not talking about economic issues and concludes:

At the end of their [the politicians’] tenure, we end up with a legacy of increased poverty and neglected garrisons of murderous criminal hopelessness where dons become slave masters, benefactors and the people’s government, judge and jury.

Now, as you can imagine, I thought of Mr. Spence’s editorial in the context of New Brunswick. While there is no direct parallel here (I don’t see much ‘murderous criminal hopelessness’ here), I do think we can learn something (no disrespect to my fellow blogger who didn’t like my linking Pravda with the Times and Transcript – I don’t posit for one moment that New Brunswick’s society is anything like Jamaica’s).

Let’s face it. We don’t teach ‘economic development’ even at a peripheral level at the high school and even university levels. I took economics courses right through to the master’s level and I don’t recall one course on ‘economic development’ in the sense of communities and industries rallying together to stimulate an economy for the good of society (for those of you that think my education was in the 1920s, think again – I finished my MBA in 1991).

So, your humble servant, proposes a slate of economic development courses to be taught at the high school and then university level:

Suggested Titles:
-Why economies die and can we do anything about it?
-The Irish model of attracting international investment – could it work here?
-Building a successful economy in a post resource-based community
-The auto sector in Ontario: A case study in positive government investment
-The pharmaceutical sector in Montreal: A 30 year experiment
-The economics of dependancy: why increasing Equalization will accelerate New Brunswick’s decline.
-Can cold climates have strong economies?
-Investing less than 1% – Is it good enough? The role of government in economic development.
-Economic development and immigration: chicken and egg dilemma?
-Subsidies versus investments/propping up dying industries vs. stimulating emerging industries
-Rebuilding rural communities: revisiting why they started in the first place
-The role of New Brunswick universities in economic development: Subsidizers of Ontario’s labour pool or genuine economic development engines?
-Politics and economic development: incompatable?
-Is economic development education necessary?

Now, you may disagree with some or all of my titles. And maybe teaching kids about Alfred Marshall’s supply/demand curve is more important or David Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage or JM Keynes’ theory of aggressive government support of economies. Or maybe just getting them out on the track is more important because we are the most obese society in Canada. I would like to think we could squeeze a few of these courses in – maybe as extra credit during lunch hour.

Heck, maybe we should make this adult education and invite the politicians.