Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian (2012).
So this isn’t exactly about economics, and I guess economics isn’t exactly about economics either. It’s supposed to be about people and about helping people access the best the world can offer them. It’s supposed to be about progress and growth, not for the sake of progress and growth, but for the individuals and communities and nations that make up the world. The argument that King refers to here is not one specific to the Aboriginals in North America, though they are its main target. The argument is this: these people need to figure out how to look out for themselves; they need to figure out how to survive and grow and prosper; we can’t throw money at them and teach them every little detail about how to do this.
Okay. But the other side of the argument is a little ironic given the above. We also want these people to be like us and follow in our footsteps to development. Native peoples faced assimilation and execution, but that’s old history, isn’t it? Now they need to learn to stand on their own feet.
So a lot of what I’ve just written is sarcastic and satirical, because for those of you who don’t know me, I happen to be native and I feel incredibly passionately about Aboriginal issues. Being sarcastic about this kind of thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. What I’m trying to say is that economics fails all the time because of the policy making and people behind it. Fair isn’t often considered when making economic decisions, and that sucks. Of course.
Where economics and economists fall short, people need to fill in. People with consciences and dreams and hearts. People are not parts of an engine. They are not disposable and they are not to be aggregated at every turn. People need to be understood as they want to be understood, not how others want to see them. People need to think and feel, not one or the other.
We need to learn from the past, but that doesn’t mean learn and repeat. We need to learn what we did wrong and how to fix it, and not put all the bad stuff that happened in a report or file and store it away forever.