Monday, 30 January 2012

Christine Lagarde on Innovation

As politicians and economists continue to argue the merits of cuts versus spending the world over, Christine Lagarde comes up with one key point - there can be no growth without innovation. To this, I should add that until we re-appraise our understanding of growth, there can be no innovation.

Original creativity, whether it manifests itself scientifically, technologically, or artistically shows no respect for social constructs. A child from a slum may have far more to offer the world in terms of life saving surgeries, carbon cutting energies and anthems to lift our soul than one born with a silver spoon in her mouth. We can never know this until we create more uniform access to opportunity.

All the more reason to stop tinkering with the ideological and start dealing with the practical, because it is not just a question of cutting and spending. Regulation of consumer markets and employment terms is key.

Unfettered, marketers mine consumer data to devise products and services that we have no choice but to buy. Why is bread more expensive than beer? Why does it cost more to heat social housing? Why, oh why, should poorer people pay more to bank, borrow or save? Indeed how can a young person from a low income household be expected to work unpaid? Should they never climb out of this trap?  

Since when were our taxes a dependable resource to mop up the aftermath of exploited employment and market trends?  When businesses actively make us more vulnerable - requiring care because our basic needs are unaffordable, or unable to take up an unpaid internship - should they not pick up the welfare tab?

It is plain lazy to assume that poverty and low academic attainment predisposes people to a lack of talent. Even the great Albert Einstein was slow to develop speech, failed entrance exams and copied another student's notes. In the current climate, it is dangerously unproductive to consign those in poverty to never revealing their talent and we should do well to eradicate the practices that impose this.

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