Trapped In A System
A book that has really stayed with me since I read it is The Prize, the story of the attempt to reform the Newark public school system.
And there is a particular scene in that book that really sums it up for me.
The author is at an anti-charter school protest and meets a woman who had spent that morning trying to get her son into a new charter school that had opened in Newark. The author asks the woman how it is possible that on the same day she would spend the morning trying to get her son into a charter school and the afternoon at an anti-charter protest.
The woman explains that most of her family are employed in good paying union jobs in the district schools and that the growth of charters is a threat to those jobs.
As I read that story I was struck by how rational the woman was acting. She was helping to preserve a system that provided an economic foundation for her family and at the same time opting her son out of it.
In some ways that story is a microcosm of what is happening in the economy right now. Many people in the US (and around the world) are employed by (and trapped in) a system that no longer works very well. And although they realize the system is broken, they fight to support it because it underpins their economic security.
My partner Albert argues for a universal basic income to replace the old and broken system so we as a society can free ourselves from outdated approaches that don’t work anymore and move to adopt new and better systems.
I think it is worth a shot to be honest.