Thursday, November 03, 2011

“THE PUBLIC is what makes THE PRIVATE possible!”

The first email was sent at MIT back when I was busy earning money over that summer between my junior and senior year in high school and pre-occupied with just released rock and roll hits such as “Satisfaction,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” “Help,” “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Wooly Bully.”

It was a hell of a summer for hits that still endure today, but just as 1965 was not only filled with news about the war, including the first bombing of North Vietnam and protests and Civil Rights marches, it was also when experimentation launched into innovations such as Head Start, Gatorade, and hybrid power systems for vehicles.

The point of this observation is that while those 46-year-old songs are even more ubiquitous today, good research often takes as much as two generations to incubate into something feasible in the marketplace.

People who see the Occupy Wall Street Movement (OWS) as only the means to make a point fail to grasp that it is really about a 30-year span of “winner-take-all” economics fueled by lobbyist-rigged initiatives that intentionally or not have dramatically diminished the middle class and undermined the American Dream.

Just as it takes an average of two generations for research to incubate into many products and services, it has taken the same amount of time for people to finally hear warnings about extreme income and wealth disparity that has put America at the level of some third-world countries.

Professor George Lakoff conducts research into the application of cognitive and neural linguistics on everything from morality to politics to mathematics at the University of California – Berkley.  He suggests that OWS is a moral movement not just a policy movement.

He also notes that it is “The Public that makes the private possible,” something often lost on ultra-conservative “haves” when they lecture “have-nots” about how they made it on their own.  In reality none of it would have been possible without a foundation provided by we “The Public” cooperating to provide infrastructure and framework and research and much more.

As a moderate Independent, I follow Lakoff on the progressive end of the spectrum just as I do David Brooks on the conservative end.  I highly recommend both. They are both extremely articulate and you know what, to me they agree on many things.

Like many conservatives, Brooks tends to be dismissive of OWS, stereotyping them around a policy vs. morality.  But Brooks makes an excellent point in an essay about the nature of Blue Inequality and Red Inequality and he’s not just talking about politics.

I think Brooks and Lakoff would agree that the solution is to worry not just about the inequality of incomes but about inequality of opportunity.  To put one above the other as Brooks does seems a false choice to me.  Both must be resolved and for both we “The Public” must be part of the solution.

Oh, and that first-ever email in 1965 – it was funded by we “The Public” through Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA,) the entity credited by CEOs for laying the groundwork over the last 50 years for the technological innovations that are driving the economy today.

A clone, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) is now doing the same so we “The Public” do our part to help secure energy independence based on a report requested by Congress entitled Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Future from the National Academies.

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