Have you ever heard the term ‘human capital’? I stumbled it across it recently. The World Bank has been researching how to invest in and quantify human capital since 2017 with it’s Human Capital Project. Here is an excerpt from their website.
What is Human Capital and What is the Human Capital Project?
Human capital consists of the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives, enabling them to realize their potential as productive members of society. We can end extreme poverty and create more inclusive societies by developing human capital. This requires investing in people through nutrition, health care, quality education, jobs and skills.
Why now? The cost of inaction on human capital development is going up. Without human capital, countries cannot sustain economic growth, will not have a workforce that is prepared for the more highly-skilled jobs of the future, and will not compete effectively in the global economy.~ end quote
If you go to their website you can download a 214 page pdf of their Human Capital Index 2020 Update.
Reading this and other corporate-speak articles about human capital is not exactly entertaining. But something about the concept just struck me as wrong. So I kept reading and finding other articles of which there are multitudes. Human capital is a popular topic among employers, economists, world planners, and others involved in making money.
At first glance it seems like they are talking about helping people have better lives because they mention investing in education and health, survival rates and eliminating poverty. But actually quality of life is not the focus.
Here is the focus : How will the Human Capital Project have an impact? The Human Capital Project is expected to help create the political space for national leaders to prioritize transformational human capital investments. The objective is rapid progress towards a world in which all children arrive in school well-nourished and ready to learn, can expect to attain real learning in the classroom, and are able to enter the job market as healthy, skilled, and productive adults.
Invest in humans…..to create productive adults. Sounds creepy.
But I couldn’t put my finger on the problem until now. What was missing from the concept of human capital and these various articles, besides quality of life, happiness, and freedom?
None of them say anything about the intrinsic VALUE of HUMAN LIFE. What is that? The value that everyone human being has simply because they are a human being that was created in the image of God. Of course they also do not mention the human soul or the value of non-quantifiable human characteristics such as personality or creativity for it’s own sake, not for the sake of producing a profit.
I am afraid that the focus on human capital is another step in the direction of reducing non-elite humans to nothing more than consumers and workers/producers for the benefit of creating wealth and services for the elites. Be on the lookout for this term and let me know what you think. Is it just a technical term? Is it demeaning or useful for certain purposes to place a dollar value on human lives based on how much is spent ‘developing’ them?
By the way, the term human capital was placed on a list of UN-WORDS in 2004 . Those are words that take away dignity from humans or violate human rights or democratic principles. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Un-word_of_the_year#List_of_Un-words_of_the_year_since_1991