The Risk Governments Must Take for the People – A Response to Mariana Mazzucato

October 29th, 2020

Within the presentation, “Government – Investor, Risk-Taker, Innovator”, by Mariana Mazzucato, the idea that Governments should leave the private sector alone, and thus allow them to innovate and create ideas on their own with no outside influence, is challenged by Mariana Mazzucato. She states that the Government should in fact have a large influence upon the private sector, in that the Government can help support the growth of extremely innovative yet risky ideas and creations by supplying funding in case the product fails. In fact, Mariana details that the United States Government has already been doing this for many years, and as a result of funding these risky ideas, has supported the growth of Silicon Valley — Through which massive companies, such as Amazon, Ebay, and Apple, have exploded in size and economic output. These risky ideas that the United States Government has already funded are things such as the Internet, GPS, Microchips, and other innovations that companies use in their products. It is with Government funding and aid that companies can use these technological advancements within their own products, and thus, create a net profit overall. Mariana states that while the Government has been funding these new advancements, they have actually been losing Federal funds from doing so. Although these technological advancements make money for the companies that use them, the Government makes almost nothing in return. A solution to this is brought forth in the form of a Return-Generating Mechanism, such as Equity or an Innovation Fund, that will allow the Government to make a profit as well. Other companies, such as Brazil and Finland, have already begun starting such mechanisms in their investments, and turning a profit. When the United States Government invested and developed the Internet, they had no mechanism in place, and thus made almost no money in return for funding its development. Mariana states that in actuality, the Government has always had a hand in supporting the growth of the private sector, and to further support such growth, we should create these Return-Generating Mechanisms to help develop the Government and our country in addition to the various companies and products within.

This TED Talk was extremely persuasive in its arguments and her attack against the common rhetoric that many people believe in. By giving examples of technologies that the Government riskily funded within multiple products made by private sector companies, the idea that the Government should have no effect on the private sector is challenged. Although there is some criticism to be found within the presentation, overall the entire TED Talk was well constructed. The slight criticism to be found is more so within the presenter herself occasionally going off on tangents in her conversation near the beginning of the TED Talk, resulting in the topic sometimes becoming confusing. As the speaker discussed different countries’ reactions towards Silicon valley and different ideas of market versus state, the actual content of the TED talk became hard to follow. Thankfully, this issue was solved as the presentation continued.

Watching this presentation as a possible future Journalist allows me to realize that possible common perceptions regarding how certain things should be structured may not entirely be true. The idea that companies should be left alone by the Government, allowed to grow and evolve on their own, is not entirely true. Through journalism, I can follow the same path in questing common ideas, researching and finding the truth in our world.

-Aaron Wells

Why do we Believe that the World is Getting Worse? – A Response to Steven Pinker

October 8th, 2020

Within the TED Talk presented by Steven Pinker, the concept of global improvement was brought into question, that despite improvements in various different categories, such as technology, political relationships, health, and poverty, the quality of the world is perceived as deteriorating as time progresses. The focus of his talk was to disprove this idea, to show various graphs and charts which details how health and safety has increased, while the rate of poverty, homicide, and wars have decreased. The notion that our world is declining and becoming dangerous is in fact an idea brought forth by the media. Media stations, such as news or online videos, often strive to showcase terrible events as a means to garner attention, as such events are often interesting or instill fear, becoming a focus for people in their everyday life. The abundance of negative information being fed to people leads to this repressive mindset that the world itself is becoming worse as time continues. The focus of Steven Pinker’s talk was to highlight that the world is not in fact becoming worse, but rather significantly improving, that such thoughts come from an over-exposure to negative news. To assist in proving this point, Steven Pinker uses charts which list how things have improved or degraded within the past 30 to 100 years. The usage of such information, with sources listed at the bottom of each chart, creates an extremely persuasive presentation. While little criticism is found against this presentation, what I wish would be done was to possibly present some information that shows how certain things may in fact be getting worse as time progresses, that while the majority of critical issues are being fixed, there are still some present in this world that promotes the growth of negative mindsets, that we’re not on a perfect exponential growth towards a perfect world, a point he made would be impossible/harmful. This TED Talk reassures me that although I am entering into perhaps the most difficult stages of my life, stepping out into the harsh and cruel world as an independent person for the first time, things are not as bad as what others may claim. That, while others may preach or yell at how terrible the world is today, that I may be able to pierce the veil they attempt to drape over me.

-Aaron Wells