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What rewards (Deserts) for creativity is 'Just?"
on March 16, 2013
This book offers up a valuable potential `society changing' idea whose time has come. The hard part is in deciding whether to honor the clear facts and heed the logic that the historical facts and philosophy would suggest
The facts are that the miracle of modern engineering and economic advance is not all modern, though some of it is. Our modern new gadgets and inventions are modern adaptations and improvements to ancient developments. The computer of today results from the abacus, and math concepts and electrical wizardry of previous generations, developed largely through combinations of past genius and government support of yore. They are refinements of electrical calculating machines from scores of years past. They use silicon chips that were decades in discovery and improvement.
The free market did not develop such developments alone, nor did sole genius. Government money financed much the R&D for wartime and other government needs. The societal infrastructure was essential in the development process over centuries.
The same logic holds for airplanes of aluminum, and for the development of and aluminum extraction and alloys in general. The beginning of our use of aluminum goes back to Archimedes day. It took government expense of large sources of electricity resulting from government projects like Hoover dam to supply electricity in huge quantity before aluminum could be widely extracted from clay and used to develop modern light weight air frames
It also took large scale public investment to develop and design many other features used by modern aviation to improve efficiency so that the planes can fly and perform sufficiently well to meet commercial and military needs.
The stories abound with the authors giving credit to social groups including government for many developments that came to us through the gifts of history
Rarely do the claimed genius inventors deserve credit for their inventions. Alexander Bell for example was a genius but so were others who simultaneously invented telephone. Bell won a race to the patent office, and so fame but only at the expense of failing o give credit to others who made progress lo this end long before he did. That would include inventor discoveries of electricity like Benjamin Franklin.
A vast majority of our modern technological, medical, aviation and similar developments trace their capacity back to a wide range of historical discovery such as math, geometry, language, government standards of measures, legal systems that protect rights and so allow developers to assert their energy and talent with faith that their inventions will be protected from interlopers who claim the benefits.
The publicly financed schools, colleges, libraries, trade and professional journals all play important roles in the creative effort. They do so at public expense. Yet the public gets no direct credit or remuneration for their contribution. Since the public includes most of us, and our ancestors from whom we inherit, the question is raised, should the public at large get any portion of the largess since the public advances of history have made our modern industrial system possible
The book addresses the question from a historical perspective as well as from philosophical and moral question. What are the `Just deserts' of the public for having lent the knowledge, the educational and the development of the scientific and technological base for all of our modern miracles?
If society is entitled to its just deserts, in what manner should it receive it? Do we need an estate tax to recapture for public benefit what rightly is attributed to public contribution? Would a graduated income tax be appropriate with the portion going to the government, and money designated for educational purposes so that all citizens have good schools with highly trained teachers, all made safe by rigidly enforced safety standards?
This is a very provocative book with highly relevant social moral questions that need to be addressed