Class Warfare in the Info Age

Lisa & Ian Murray seamus at
Sun Aug 27 11:32:27 PDT 2000

Chuck, you wrote :

"Why? I suspect because what I mean by a demonstration is a series of tables and statistical or other empirical measures that demonstrate a relationship that is critical to a line of argument. It occurred to me that the reason there were no tables and graphs is because there were no measures. The most likely reason was simply that acceptable measures and perhaps even a crude consensus on how to form them didn't exist. And, therefore in order write about the subject, it was necessary to proceed as an argument rather than an empirical demonstration."

There are couple of papers that have made some attempts to measure the rate of return on knowledge a "a factor of production" that you might want to take a look at.

"Fundamental Stocks of Knowledge and Productivity Growth" by James D Adams Journal of Political Economy 1990 vol. 98 # 4

"Measuring the Social Return to R & D" by Charles Jones and John William Quarterly Journal of Economics November 1998

Also, they make great reading alongside "Shamans Software and Spleens by the left leaning James Boyle [a la Foucault] and F M Scherer's "New Perspectives on Economic Growth and Technological Innovation".

As most of the fundamental knowledge that will serve as a platform for the hi-tech industries of century 21 will continue to be funded by the FedGov [pardon my US-centric view], a couple of things need to be kept in mind for those who see a potential fissure site for struggle. How do the property rights flow in tech transfer from public to private 'corporate welfare' arguments work pretty well here? How about the taxpayer getting some residual claimancy on a per unit sold of knowledge input X or some variant thereof, or privileging access to the taxpayer funded cognitive commons to firms that have totally different ownership structures "know-ops" or something...

That rolls into the issue of capital market failure to invest in the needed "volume" of knowledge to sustain technological innovation. The Jones and Williams paper goes into this. They estimate that the optimal rate of investment is at least two to four times actual investment. This suggests that the "Government" should be addressing this problem in a big way [William works at the Federal Reserve]. One of the paradoxes of their result is that many more scientists and engineers will be needed in the future to sustain the growth of the knowledge base. Yet back in the 1960's Derek De Solla Price did a study that suggested that if scientific activity continues to grow at the rate it has since 1750 "in less than a century we should have two scientists for every man, woman,child and dog in the population." Now we know that ain't gonna happen nor can we afford a continuation of the trends in inequality of accesss to ownership of the means to knowledge creation and the concomitant access to the means of production at all the various sites of the social factory. So how do we create a sustainable R & D growth curve and get the governance structures that currently exist to achieve it so as to democratize access to knowledge and the ownership of the technologies to avert a big f'ing problem??? Property and Contract anyone?


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