American Innovation’s Black Swan….Our Dysfunctional and Corrupt Governement

There is a book on the shelves entitled “The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  I confess to only reading the free sample portion on my iPad.  Essentially the book is about the unpredictable and the unforeseen.  The 9/11’s of our lives and of our time are the things that reach out and bite us that are totally out of left field.

The field of science that I was in was on a upward trajectory.  If you kept your head down and worked hard, got your doctorate and few good publications, then a decent job could be yours.  But that all ended with the Bush Administration.  Funding for the NIH and NSF dried up – seemingly overnight.  Grants became harder and harder to come by.  Productive laboratories were shutting down right and left.  When I entered graduate school such a scenario was unthinkable, but it was becoming a very harsh reality by the time I graduated.  By then I saw the writing on the wall – though it took others longer to see it. It was our black swan..and it was telling us that all we worked for and trained for was probably going to be useless to us. We didn’t want to see it.

Then came the financial meltdown.  What little security those of us in this very middle class of fields had was turned on its head.  We all saw the black swan by then, but it was too late for many who had invested decades of their lives in their  fields.  This black swan wasn’t limited to the sciences and engineering – though the prolonged educational pipelines of these fields made people like me far more vulnerable to the impact.  By then all but the few in the financial elite on Wall Street knew that all they had planned and saved for was in shreds.  Our lives would never be the same again.

Then in November of 2008, the nation elected Barack Obama.  He promised change.  What he didn’t reckon on was the corruption that the monied elite had created during 8 years of Bush.  Neither did the rest of the country.  We thought perhaps that we could simply legislate our way back to where we were before.  Perhaps we could deny the black swan its victory dance over our lives and livelihoods.

Granted, there had been problems well before the Bush administration. But the intractable nature of this entrenched state of corruption that has paralyzed our Government and is threatening to shut down many more labs with the impending sequester is something that was unthinkable pre-Bush.  It is also one of the main reasons that science and other STEM fields are being brought to their knees.  As goes science and engineering – so goes innovation.  You can’t have one without the other.  You can’t create the next internet or cancer drug using unemployed or grossly underpaid  professionals.  And where innovation goes – so goes economic growth and prosperity.

It is often said that we create our own reality.  That may or may not be true.  But we created this mess through our votes and by being politically asleep at the switch.  We took a 30 year political nap while the business round table and the top 1% ensured themselves a largesse that they could gorge on for decades. They created an economy based on fast trades and making money on money rather than through discovery and innovation.  When discovery and innovation become irrelevant for the accumulation of wealth, the vast majority of people are in big trouble.  The elite can churn money through fast trades and clever algorithms, but that means the rest of us- even the highly educated, are scrounging around in search of crumbs.

A government so corrupt that it allows the elite to destroy its county’s own future – that’s our black swan.

© 2013 – RGHicks – – All rights reserved.

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4 Responses to American Innovation’s Black Swan….Our Dysfunctional and Corrupt Governement

  1. G.GailWatson says:

    Very thoughtout, clear, and well-written article!

    • Ruthmarie says:

      Thanks Aunt Gail! Glad you liked it!

    • Suzanne Arena says:

      I missed this before — but it is right on the $$. No pun intended: ). I think the damage done will take years to totally be fleshed out. Also, can you change the text color on this? It’s too light.

  2. This text is worth everyone

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