*Mass Flourishing*

The author is Edmund Phelps and the subtitle is How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change.

The book’s home page is here.


The Randians are going to love this. Actually I'm not sure; there will be some who are so shoehorned into the depictions made of them by the anti-individualist Left that they actually believe that individualism must naturally tend towards valuing 'the elite few', while others may argue that the individualist innovator's club is open to all, it's just that only so few have their eyes open to it.

I have no idea what Randians think, but if they take Rand herself as a leade, they don't need to be shoehorned by their enemies on this score. In her books innovation gets done by hero engineers and that's pretty much that.

Literary device?

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In any field, the number of elite performers that arises is driven by the population base of potential performers.

If only ten people feel the urge to go in their garage and tinker, the odds of your society producing Henry Ford will be exceedingly low. On the other hand, if millions of people try to invent stuff, some of them will end up developing groundbreaking inventions.

So I'm not sure there's such a conflict between elite innovation and grassroots innovation.

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Thank you for the heads up, I will be purchasing this book.

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I think it's beneficial to have this conversation, but I think we need to be fair about some of the words that are being used and misused. If we limit our historical analysis to the last 3 decades a few things have happened:

1. the word "entrepreneur" has been diluted to almost meaningless status. 30 years ago an entrepreneur (French for "undertaker") saw an opportunity because of an existing demand that wasn't being met. That entrepreneur would then "invent" a solution. It wasn't innovation, it was invention. Today, any startup is considered entrepreneurial when they are simply innovating (incremental) and generally speaking they don't create any NEW jobs, they simply replace jobs lost by the losing competitor. It gets worse - buy a franchise and you're an entrepreneur. Many of the activities we refer to as entrepreneurial are simply small business and they too, will displace jobs, not create any. Competition determines that.

2. Job creation is not something the government of business does, only DEMAND can create a job - A) aggregate demand, B) unmet demand or C) lost demand. Aggregate demand takes care of itself. Unmet demand should be our collective target and lost demand may lost forever (electronics).

3. Innovation is primarily handled by committees or groups. It is generally risk averse and simply seeks an small advantage of another product or service. Certainly corporations lead in this regard. In 30 years we've settled for innovation and forgot about invention. Invention allowed America to change industries and capture unmet demand. Generally speaking invention comes from inventors, a group we mock on reality shows and fail miserably at giving them assistance. Their ideas and solutions are "too big" and dismissed without any fair, objective review. Part of this stems from our becoming a society of "experts" carving out our own special area. Gone are the generalists that are unafraid to take on entire industries or propose significant (and valuable) changes.

We have several industries in America that are remarkably inefficient - healthcare, education, agriculture, construction and even charitable giving, yet we don't seek to change those industries, we tolerate the status quo.

If America is to become productive and economically sustainable we MUST focus on those people believe they can satisfy unmet demand with invention, not incremental innovation.

America is getting smaller because our ambition and thinking is smaller. If our government wanted to make a bigger difference, how about offering prize money to those that create economically viable solutions to our greatest problems? If they weren't solved we wouldn't waste our money, but entrepreneurs (as we've seen with X Prizes) will embrace the challenge and seek to invent valuable solutions.


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