The Greatest Waste

As Heinlein pointed out, the natural state of Man appears to be poverty.

Two hundred years ago, a person living on my property was 10 miles from the nearest small town. If he didn’t plan ahead, he would starve or freeze in the winter. Thanks to advances in technology, all but the very poorest of us now have access to clean water, cheap and safe food, and terabytes of bad information and pornography.

These advances were the result of government investment in basic science, including semiconductors, computers, nuclear energy and the internet itself. The researchers who did most of this were middle class through and through. Most engineers and scientists still are, and gain their training through the public education system. The well-educated children of the rich become lawyers, bankers, and sometimes doctors.

The contest between the creative geeks and the leaders of our societies go back over a millennium.

During the Middle Ages, many of the skilled workers were represented by the guilds, including the Freemasons. The Catholic Church kept their power in by controlling the spread of science and technology, while keeping the nobility largely illiterate. This balance of power shifted in the labour shortage that resulted from the Black Plague.

As the population increased, thanks to the online casino dissemination of technology, the balance of power gradually shifted back, until the Scientific Revolution required skilled workers in large numbers. This led to the drive for public education.

In our lifetimes, we have moved to a Global economy, giving access to huge reservoirs of cheap labour. Our business and political leaders, most of whom do not know how to do anything practical, simply assume that the vast riches around them are the result of their own brilliance, and so are quite happy to move all of our jobs to other countries. They also work to dismantle the education system, and cut money for research, since this saves them taxes. The current economic crises give them the perfect excuse.

The problem is that simply preserving what we have as a society requires mining our meager talents every bit as aggressively as we drill for oil.

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4 comments for “The Greatest Waste

  1. james Higham
    November 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Anyone who does not take care of the human capital working for what he is working for is both an idiot and an excrescence. Rule N1 – you look after your staff or extrapolated to the nation, the elected representatives are there for one purpose only – to serve the people. This thing is bottom end up and always should be. When someone starts getting uppity, a 9mm round to the skull is an effective solution.

    If there is such a thing as a “leader”, then it is someone in touch with his powerbase, i.e. the people.

  2. john in cheshire
    November 24, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    VoR,James, as usual I’m in agreement. And at the risk of repeating what many have said before, our public servants must be fearful of us, the lumpen mass who pay their wages. If they aren’t fearful of us, they will treat us like shit, which is what they are doing.
    Restoring capital punishment for treason and enforcing it, would be a very visible, cheap and effective means of showing the turds floating at the top of our current national ruling class that we mean business.

  3. Andrew Duffin
    November 25, 2011 at 9:23 am

    “These advances were the result of government investment…”

    What, ALL of them?

    A somewhat sweeping statement, is it not?

    • Voice of Reason
      November 26, 2011 at 1:06 am

      Let’s see:

      semiconductors – developed at Bell labs under government contract for the military
      computers – uniac and eniac were built with government money, for the purpose of predicting neutron flow in reactors
      nuclear energy – that one is quite clear
      internet – built originally as arpanet, to preserve communication after nuclear war.

      The reality is that companies don’t generally invest in technology until after it’s commercially viable. In fact, most large entities have reduced or eliminated their long-term research since the 1970’s.

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