The real driver of innovation isn’t lone geniuses but state investment; innovation is the product of a process akin to evolution

A recent post is entitled:

Recent report, indicating half of Perth-Huron households earn less than a living wage, gives rise to reflections; I have shared a 2017 EKOS report about shifting meaning of middle class

At this post I have featured some articles related to poverty levels, past and present, as well as the larger context within which problems related to poverty – and possible state-supported, collaborative approaches aimed at addressing it –  can be addressed.

Charles Booth’s London poverty maps

An Oct. 27, 2019 London School of Economics Review of Books article is entitled: “Charles Booth’s London Poverty Maps – Book Review. A sumptuously illustrated version of Charles Booth’s detailed chromatic coding of patterns of life and labour in the late 19th century London – reviewed by Laura Vaughan.”

An excerpt (I have broken the longer text into shorter paragraphs) reads:

And so to the legacy of Booth’s work. We learn that by the turn of the century Booth’s analysis had not only overturned many of the prejudices regarding the nature of deprivation in London, highlighting the complexity of ‘situation’, but also had practical outcomes, such as legislation to record overcrowding in the census and a successful campaign for an old age pension.

His methods were replicated in subsequent social studies, most notably in the 1895 Hull-House study of Chicago that drew up an even more detailed set of coloured maps of nationalities and of wages. But Booth’s legacy is longer still.

It is reasonable to state that his social scientific methods helped establish the academic discipline of social science. While we continue to battle with social issues that were already being tackled 100 years ago, it is worth revisiting what we learned at the time: how poor housing areas can diminish the circumstances of local communities, while poor housing management or upkeep can have a significant impact on people’s lives.

Click here for previous posts about Chicago >

U.S. life expectancy being driven down by middle-aged deaths

A Nov. 26, 2019 CBC article is entitled: “U.S. life expectancy being driven down by middle-aged deaths, study suggests: Similar trends in life expectancy of children and seniors were not detected during period analyzed.”

An excerpt reads:

The rising rates of midlife mortality hit some regions of the country harder than others, Woolf and his co-author found. Increases were highest in northern New England and the Ohio Valley.

Economic hardship and the resulting despair may be to blame in those regions, Woolf suggested.

“While it’s a little difficult to place the blame on despair directly, the living conditions causing despair are leading to other problems,” he explained. “For example if you live in an economically distressed community where income is flat and it’s hard to find jobs, that can lead to chronic stress, which is harmful to health.”

Noting that a pattern of increasing mortality in middle age is not seen in other high-income countries, Woolf said this might be because “in other countries there are more support systems for people who fall on hard times. In America, families are left to their own devices to try to get by.”

Worsening housing conditions in Northwest Territories

A Nov. 29, 2019 CBC article is entitled: ‘This is a crisis’: N.W.T. survey shows worsening housing conditions: 2019 NWT Community Survey says 42% of all households have at least one major problem.”

An excerpt reads:

Housing in every community throughout the Northwest Territories is getting worse.

The 2019 NWT Community Survey says 42 per cent of all houses in the territory have at least one major problem, up from 20 per cent in the 2016 federal census.

CBC compared the results of the 2019 NWT Community Survey with the 2016 census results and found a dramatic change in the number of households with core housing needs — a term used by national housing authorities to determine the number of households that are too expensive for residents or are not suitable in other ways, like overcrowding or in need of major repairs.

In Canada, the number of households with core housing needs was 13 per cent in 2016, according the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Additional articles, on topic of food banks

A July storm 24, 2019 CBC article is entitled: “Food bank map helps politicians see hunger in their own backyard: Feed Ontario’s new interactive map shows food bank use riding by riding.”

An excerpt reads:

He said another aspect of food bank use that the map made clear was that, although there are clients in every riding, some parts of Toronto are more at risk of food insecurity than others.

“You do see areas where there is virtually no food bank usage and areas of heavy concentration and those areas of heavy concentration might be in the centre of the city as they are and they might be in far reaches on the outskirts,” said Hetherington. “There is clearly a tale of two cities. There is clearly a divide.”

A Nov. 4, 2019 CBC article is entitled: “‘Troubling’ new numbers show food bank use on the rise in Toronto, Mississauga: Report links housing costs to food insecurity, says visits from Mississauga residents rose 16%.”

A Dec. 2, 2019 CBC article is entitled: “Ontario hunger report says 1 in 10 Ontarians can’t afford a basic standard of living: Those with employment accessing food banks has increased by 27 per cent.”

An excerpt reads:

In its report, Feed Ontario says that almost half of all minimum wage workers — who account for 15 per cent of Ontario’s work force — are above the age of 25, with one third of them holding a post-secondary degree and a half working full time. Part-time work has also increased.

Meanwhile, the number of temporary positions — such as “casual, seasonal, and contract roles” — has increased by 31 per cent since 1998.

These positions, Feed Ontario said, have lower compensation and make it difficult for individuals to build savings for a home or support a family.

Postwar liberalism and the remaking of political philosophy

A Nov. 22, 2019 London School of Economics Review of Books article is entitled: “Book Review: In the Shadow of Justice: Postwar Liberalism and the Remaking of Political Philosophy by Katrina Forrester.”

Using the question of whether a society can be justified to all its members in light of inequalities as point of departure, the book is described as the tracing emergence of two liberal principles: (1) the principle of civil liberties and personal rights; and (2) the principle of equality.

An excerpt reads (I have broken the longer text into shorter paragraphs):

In order to get around such limitations, liberal theorists made use of a hypothetical construction and a set of moral constraints. While the latter suggests that ‘morality was time-neutral’ (180), the hypothetical assumption is modelled on a thought experiment that Rawls called the ‘original position’ (3). According to this idea, all parties share ‘a fixed temporal location in the present from which they chose the principles to govern the future’ (177).

Essential for this experimental line of thought is that the parties are blinded by a ‘veil of ignorance’ (35), meaning that they do not know to which social group they would belong in the society they imagine.

This idea is followed by the assumption that parties would choose principles that provide the best option for the least advantaged in a society. Nonetheless, critics claim that this high level of abstraction ultimately relies on the idea that social life rests on the possibility of consensus and ethical agreement.

Forrester’s In the Shadow of Justice will particularly benefit scholars and students of philosophy, politics and history concerned with the future of political liberalism. Her important work provides a unique resource for shedding light on the conceptual roots of modern political thought while at the same time disclosing its limits.

A previous post of interest regarding the topics at hand is entitled:

Direct confrontation with economic stagnation and escalation of wealth concentration is essential, to counter rise of populism – July 2019 Toronto Star opinion article

‘The real driver of innovation isn’t lone geniuses but state investment’

An Oct. 8, 2019 Wired UK article is entitled: “This economist has a plan to fix capitalism. It’s time we all listened; Mariana Mazzucato has demonstrated that the real driver of innovation isn’t lone geniuses but state investment. Now she’s working with the UK government, EU and UN to apply her moonshot approach to the world’s biggest challenges.”

An excerpt reads:

That posed an urgent, more fundamental problem. If it was the state, not the private sector, which had traditionally assumed the risks of uncertain technological enterprises that led to the development of aviation, nuclear energy, computers, nanotechnology, biotechnology and the internet, how were we going to find the next wave of technologies to tackle urgent challenges such as catastrophic climate change, the epidemic of antibiotic resistance, the rise of dementia? “History tells us that innovation is an outcome of a massive collective effort – not just from a narrow group of young white men in California,” Mazzucato says. “And if we want to solve the world’s biggest problems, we better understand that.”

The article brings to mind a previous post entitled:

Brian Arthur argues innovation in technology is not a matter of individual genius, but instead the product of a process akin to evolution

Innovation is at times associated with a pro-urban bias, Dec. 2, 2019 CityLab article argues

Also of interest is a Dec. 2, 2019 CityLab article entitled: “Why We Should Stop Conflating Cities With Innovation and Creativity: The language we use to discuss innovation and creativity has such a pro-urban bias that we’ve forgotten these qualities flourish outside of cities, too.”

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