Five box-tops, four bottle-bottoms

26/07/2013 § Leave a comment

I received a solicitation by email the other day. No, not that kind — goodness, this is a family show. It was an invitation from the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies to do a course for a Professional Certificate in Foundations of Economic Development.

So who are these people?

The International Centre for Parliamentary Studies is a research institution of the United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN), and also works in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Association of European Election Officials (ACEEEO).

Apparently, an official, above-board sort of place. And what are they offering?

Examine the myriad of issues which determine prospects for economic development and develop comprehensive and effective plans for the delivery of measurable economic improvements to citizens’ lives.

Complex economic systems, including micro-entrepreneurs and shadow economies, require management and leadership with clarity and cohesion, encompassing understandings of multisectoral linkages, sector planning and development strategies. Participants will work with leading specialists to analyse this broad range of issues and develop their understanding and construction of holistic conceptions of the theory, policy and practice of promoting economic development.

Wow — sounds cool! Lots of interesting material, grappling with the complexities of modern mixed economies, ‘leading specialists’. How long will it take me to acquire this complex understanding?

Monday 2nd – Friday 6th December 2013

Yeah, that’s right, you can be an expert in one week. Sigh.

Here’s my bias. I’ve been studying and researching economic development in various forms for coughtwentyfiveyearscough. It’s still a mystery to me. We kind of understand it, and we know what some of the big drivers are, and we have some idea of what not to do. But new ideas come up, and things don’t happen the way you think they should, and whaddaya-know the economy changes over time. If anything should give us economists some humility, it’s New Zealand’s experience. Yeah, sure, tyranny of distance blah blah lack of scale yadda yadda. But in terms of the things we can influence — policy settings and economic incentives — New Zealand does pretty well. And yet, it just doesn’t quite perform.

But some poncy bureaucrats are going to attend this course and suddenly believe they are Professionals (!!) in Economic Development. Then they are going to take the half-remembered version of the summary of the synopsis and inflict it on some unsuspecting jurisdiction. By the time it doesn’t work, they will have moved on to the next job requiring a Professional Certificate in Acquiring Professional Certification.

So, everyone, join in: ‘It takes five box-tops, four bottle-bottoms, three coupons,….’

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