I grew up in the Toronto District School Board being able to complete the square, calculate the hypotenuse and most importantly, conjugate irregular French verbs. Armed with these life-affirming skills, I ran headlong into adulthood confident that I’d be able to slice and dice anything life threw me, Fruit Ninja-style.
I was taught that what awaited me, was what awaited other creatures of a grandly designed natural order: a meritocracy that would reward hard workers and solvers of x. And hadn’t I seen it in my own family of 1980s Vietnamese boat refugees who had foregone welfare and worked their way up in Canadian society? Freedom and rights, democracy, and capitalism, I learned were the foundational pillars that made the society that I knew, great.
What took me decades to figure out was that capitalism was the one pillar most often #$%&ed with by a bunch of guys not elected by any citizenry. After the damage was done I realized that, as a population, we’re not taught about the Rube Goldberg-esque mechanisms of the global economy. We have been content to outsource that thinking to academics, regulators and government consultants — who often work in parallel for investment banks or hedge funds (i.e. institutional gamblers of our money). This conflict of interest isn’t something we’re even aware that we should question.