How does creativity interact with capitalism?
There have been several periods of the world’s economic history that have been interesting in this regard. The period of the Industrial revolution in Britain is a fascinating period. The industrialization of the United States particularly after the Civil War was also a fascinating period in time. So is the industrialization in Asia that is truly of historic proportions and is as “old fashioned” as they come in terms of raw materials demand and brute raw industrialization.
The 1970’s were a disappointment in terms of productivity gains but a lot of that was due to the disastrous experiments the Anglo countries pursued with the failed Keynesian economics. Unsound money, stifling regulation, tariff protection, crippling banking controls on capital movements had a lot to do with 70’s being a lost decade.
When one considers the Thatcher, Reagan and Hawke reforms of the 1980s, it is as if an economic engine was started. There were 20 million new jobs were created in the US alone during the 80’s under Reagan’s watch and the economic expansion created the equivalent of Germany’s economy – an incredible achievement. Productivity takes a back seat in the theatre when you experience that sort of expansion. Australia’s economic expansion (other than the short sharp hiccup in the early 1990’s) has been on a continuous role since the 80’s because of Hawke’s reforms.
Are productivity gains linked to the rise of the Internet? Possibly, however the Internet was not a government creation. Those who suggest that that the world-wide-web would not be around today if not for the US government’s primary introduction of the codes into the public domain are wrong. I’ve seen this argument peddled on numerous occasions used to somehow validate state intervention in the private economy. I think Gore threw this out when he was big noting himself in 2000 presidential debate.
Let me make a contrary assertion. The US government’s release of those codes that supposedly enabled the Internet would have had absolutely zero effect in terms of where we are now.
There has been an Internet/intranet of sorts since the mid-1970’s widely used on a subscriber basis. It was called the Reuter Dealing System. Bank traders could contact each other by tapping a few codes on a key board allowing them to trade currencies and have live conversations across the globe. It was basically a digitized but much more elaborate version of the telex. A lesser-used system was Telerate, which was a collaborative venture between several money market brokers and Dow Jones (the owner of the Wall Street journal). These systems carried global currency rates and banks had individualized pages (like a primitive version of a website of today) with all sorts of financial information such as Eurodollar borrowing and lending rates. News- financial, general, sporting- was also a feature of these systems carried and updated live. Other sectors of the financial markets had their own intranets carrying dealing prices for Government/ Eurobonds and eventually equities. So the idea that the world was a dark “webless” place before the release of those codes is wrong.
To suggest that we would not be where we are now if it hadn’t been for the US government code release is to believe that all the digital developments in the financial markets (I forgot to mention Bloomberg monitor that was a truly remarkable development) would have remained frozen in that industry is laughable. I actually recall Reuters explaining once that IBM was looking into the idea of developing intranet services for non-bank firms and was thinking of collaborating with Reuters on this venture.
This is the trouble with sites like Wiki. It hardly mentions these innovations and people are left believing the code release was the start of the web. It wasn’t.
Let’s see how it went: The running man, courier pigeon, the telegraph, the telephone, the telex, the Reuter dealing system….. then nothing unless the government developed the internet.