The series of catastrophes that has already pummeled the world’s economies, and which is not over yet by any means, has focused the minds of our policy-makers in a wonderful way.
We would all agree that this is overdue; most of us have very little expertise in the rarified worlds of international finance and banking regulation, and we are entitled to feel rather miffed when those who do have the expertise get things so spectacularly wrong.

We are now in the position of seeing the economies of the developed world stagnating while those of Brazil, China and others are racing ahead.

How to react? Surely the sensible course is to encourage young money-makers and discourage the unproductive drones; pour resources into university engineering, physics, chemistry and even economics, and let departments of theology and philosophy and English wither and die.

Well, up to a point. Nations do need to have something to offer in the global market. But as a letterfromuniversitychaplains points out, universities are there for much more than equipping people to do a job. That is training, not education.

If we structure higher education so that young people will only enter it if their degree will give them a job that pays back the huge amount it will cost, we will regret it.

We will not be equipping people to think about the nature of the society we will be creating – a society driven by a panicky desire to keep up with the latest Asian tiger or South American puma economy, rather than by a coherent vision of what makes for a good life.

But have we got the money? As the Baptist Times went to press, it was calculated that intervention in Libya will cost Great Britain about $2.7 billion. It is surprising what we can afford when we put our minds to it.

MarkWoods is editor of Britain’s BaptistTimes, where this column first appeared.

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