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Bob Green Innes,

.... as your new ......

Trustee, Ward 4, Public System.  

.... for a return to sustainable, traditional, family based values and education.....


Credentialism is a term that was coined (or at least popularised) by Jane Jacobs in her book Dark Age Ahead. It refers to the ever growing requirement for credentials by employers. Usually this means degrees, or other proof of schooling, but it can might also include a clean security check or passing certain psychological tests. The basic complaint is that credentials often trump other desirable qualities and also that it can prevent someone without credentials from proving their worth through action. Certainly getting credentialized has become the route of choice for youth with any ambition. Everyone understands the tradeoff between years and money spent on post secondary education vs having a job during those years. Jacobs also lamented how certain credentials in such pseudo sciences as economics led people to assume they had greater understanding than reality demonstrated, which in turn leads to arrogance or hubris. This is seen in abundance throughout society. In addition we ought not to forget that a lot of the selling of the value of a good education comes from the education industry itself.

The caveat is that I am not recommending less education or lower standards, I am not advocating that the engineers in charge of the moon mission not be bona-fide experts in their field.

The danger that I see being played out is that more and more people that cannot obtain credentials for whatever reason are sidelined and in greater danger of becoming our dependents. When employers turn down recreuits just because their credentials are inadequate, both they and the individual and society at large misses out on what might have been. This is especially true of immigrants. While I appreciate the benefits of Darwinian selection, sometimes called meritocracy, we carry this philosophy farther than is beneficial. An example would be to ask yourself why a truck driver or fork lift operator or similar jobs require grade 12? What is the dropout trying to raise a family supposed to do? What jobs are reserved? We should keep in mind that when there are not enough low skill jobs, people go on welfare. Or maybe we should just sterilize such people, right? More people than you might suspect think so! Ever wonder why GM foods are so ubiquitous AND unlabelled?

While not directly related to credentialism, over regulation produces a similar effect. Some dropout trying to sell hotdogs now has to spend something like $20,000 for a stainless steel cart to do it. I watched one young fellow get hit with $300 fines for not meeting some useless municipal ordenance in his efforts to make a living. We all understand the need to prevent food poisoning but we have gone too far in our drive for safety. They folded. Safety has become a fence for reducing competition. Big business wins. The overarching problem for Canada is that such costs are just another burden that enables developing nations to catch up - which means they could eventually turn the tables on us. I doubt they will be so nice to us as we are to them. Can we put away our smugness long enough to be a little more accepting of people on the bottom rung?

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Updated Oct 2010