Friday, February 6, 2009

government-academic complex in America

"And in a speech in Washington, DC, on November 18th Eric Shmidt, chief executive of Google, an internet giant, claimed that government-funded research done in university laboratories was 'the core aspect of America's competitiveness'. Without a dramatic increase in investment in such research, and in maths and science education, Americans risked becoming mere 'captive consumers' at the mercy of rising Asian powers, he argued."

The Economist, 22nd November 2008, p 67

So, what does American capitalism rest on? The private sector? Not quite.

Innovation – the seminal fluid of capitalism – issues from Uncle Sam: it is his largess bestowed on the military-industrial-academic (MIA) complex that allows the latter to churn out new innovation (like the internet, for instance, courtesy of DARPA) that then stimulates the civilian sector.

And who provides the mass education in science and maths required by the MIA? Uncle Sam again, but in this respect he's been doing a terrible job lately. The best education is going to the richest: now, that's no way to run a mass-market capitalism!

It is a paradox that a CEO of a private sector firm, Google ('Don't Be Evil), wants the government to fund research: this clearly shows how corporations rely on the government, especially when they squeal that they are not getting enough.

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