The Gathering Storm: Reappropriated.


No matter your politics, you have to agree Winston had a way with words.* The [U.S.**] National Academy of Sciences at least knows how to steal good writing. Their new report about economic competitiveness in science and technology, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, has a proposed solution for a mere 10 giga$/year. That’s like two weeks worth of depleted Uranium shells in Iraq

Anywho, former President of MIT, Charles Vest visited Richard Freeman’s:

Economics 2888hf : Economics of Science and Engineering Workshop

to give his insights into the report. Held in a multimedia lab of the Division of Continuing Education, there were participants at Harvey Mudd College [the top rated engineering school] and the National Science Foundation. I am told that the webcast will be posted to the DCE website later this week.

“Chuck” and I are now on a first name basis [sort of]. I thanked him for the dinner Bob Jaffe signed for. Chuck readily admitted that he is not an economist. We had a somewhat animated [I was anyway] discussion about Thomas Friedman’s, The World is Flat. For now, let me just say that I don’t think Chuck is aware of Tom’s underlying economic assumptions and how he has ‘ginned the intelligence’ to support them. In particular, Tom seemed to be bent on eliding free software and open source software. The underlying political economics is different. This article from describes it. [I’d prefer a more stuffy quacademic treatment. I’ll look.] I’m concerned that Chuck may be doing the same thing. Rather awkward since, the free software movement started at M.I.T.  Also missing from the discussion was a socio-economic analysis of just who benefits from his recommendations. The ‘U.S. economy’ is a much too simplistic answer. It has somewhat of a trickle down character to it. Said another way, it follows the Feldskew view that the aggregate indices say it all about the people. How can an economy be “doing well” if MOST of the people in it aren’t? Platonism is on the march! In any case, it’s pretty clear that if Congress enacts Chucks recommendations, a good slice of the money will land at MIT. Old Presidents never die they just lose their faculties.***

Chuck did manage to mention both “intellectual commons” and “intellectual property“**** in the same talk. I will have to listen to a recording to give a good comment.
More soon.
*not available from Project Gutenberg.
**that would be “the colonies”.
*** except at Harvard, where they do die … or leave which is the same thing.

**** Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation raises the question, “Is there really such a thing as intellectual property? Or is it an overgeneralization wrought to legitimize right wing economics? Very interesting.

National Coming Out Day
Ben, this one’s for you …

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