Human capital. Is there any more demeaning phrase? Those in positions of political authority like to use the term. To grow the economy, to people the military, to ensure the GDR Almighty surpasses each and every idol, we have to ensure the correct placement of our human cattle. Oh, I mean capital. I was recently reading about our rivalry with China. The expert I was consulting noted that it all comes down to human capital. With populations shrinking, this is annoying to those who want to measure nation against nation, back to back. In China, it’s said, your fate is determined at a fairly young age. And that made me wonder about late bloomers. Like yours truly. To see me up through at least fourth grade nobody would’ve supposed I was Ph.D. material. (Considering how this all worked out, maybe they were right.)
Humans, if we’re honest, mature at different rates. Some of us take decades to learn what we’re good at. This may be a problem endemic to the poor—kids who are raised by parents that are uneducated and don’t even know about things like after-school classes and clubs to enhance the experience of growing up. Or if they do know about them, can’t afford them. They raise their children to be blue collar in mentality. Of course, capitalism relies on this. You need human capital to collect garbage and dig ditches. To people the military. I often wonder how many of these folks might’ve been (and still could be) hidden geniuses. You see, when I grew up working as a janitor in my middle school, during the summers, I listened to the hourly employees as they talked. It wasn’t all about women and alcohol. No, some of them were untrained philosophers. I learned that I wasn’t the only human capital that thought deep thoughts while running a floor stripper.
The very concept of human capital ensures that some potentially world-changing kids will be overlooked and slotted where “society needs them.” If we would educate ourselves more our world could become a more equitable and pleasant place for the 99 percent. Instead, we keep the capitalist machine fed, nations comparing one another’s capabilities. China may use balloons creatively, but we can be assured that all developed nations are surveilling their neighbors, assessing how they’re using their human capital. All I know is that I grew up destined to work as a janitor, but the thoughts in my head wouldn’t stop. And one mentor, who worked for a church, decided to show me the way. How I wish I could help others escape, but there’s some comfort in being part of a machine.
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