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Friday, May 25, 2012

Whither the Savior?

Sensible business people argue cogently that, sure, things look bleak, but our capitalist system is supple, and some new industry/technology will come along and lift us right out of this funk.

In the past this has been true - sometimes.  War - and the accompanied industrialization lifted us out of the last depression.  But we have had several periods of amazing innovation.

Here's what many people miss.  ALL new technologies are developed in labs - not at companies - but in UNIVERSITIES.  ALL.  EVERY.  Sure, you can look to individual entrepreneurs who developed Commercial applications for new technologies, but all the breakthrough technologies are developed from work done in advanced labs at top universities.

The reason is that corporations are largely bureaucratic bogs - just like the government.  Top scientists all want to work running their own labs and working for themselves on what they like at top universities.  It is often years before entrepreneurs and corporations even understand the breakthroughs sufficiently to commercialize them.

Corporations are good at EVENTUALLY stealing or paying for these technologies and then developing them commercially.  And that's valid and important.  But they create nothing.

Sure, it seems like an amazing advance when apple creates an phone the lets you text a pal while you watch a movie and order a pizza - but that's more of a marketing coup than a technological advance.

That's just the way it is.  And there's nothing wrong with it.

Except this: Currently there is a tremendous and frightening hatred of education and Universities amongst certain sectors of the political elite.  Many top Republican power brokers - like Rush Limbaugh and Shawn Hannity -- never went to college and hate University Education with a passion.

Education and University funding is under tremendous siege.  Tops University labs are being defunded at an alarming rate - to preserve tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent.

We are systematically crushing the place we look to to save our sinking economy.

Good luck to us.

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