Wednesday, February 23, 2022

#54 / Moonshot


I got a book recommendation from a friend. I am passing it on here, with this disclaimer. Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide To Changing Capitalism, is a book I now think I ought to read, but not a book I have already read. It does, though, from the outline presented below, sound like a book that we all ought to read!

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, capitalism was stuck. It had no answers to a host of problems, including disease, inequality, the digital divide and, perhaps most blatantly, the environmental crisis.

Taking her inspiration from the ‘moonshot’ programmes which successfully coordinated public and private sectors on a massive scale, Mariana Mazzucato calls for the same level of boldness and experimentation to be applied to the biggest problems of our time.
Mission Economy looks at the grand challenges facing us in a radically new way, arguing that we must rethink the capacities and role of government within the economy and society, and above all recover a sense of public purpose. 
To solve the massive crises facing us, we must be innovative — we must use collaborative, mission-oriented thinking while also bringing a stakeholder view of public private partnerships which means not only taking risks together but also sharing the rewards. We need to think bigger and mobilize our resources in a way that is as bold as inspirational as the moon landing—this time to the most ‘wicked’ social problems of our time. 
We can only begin to find answers if we fundamentally restructure capitalism to make it inclusive, sustainable, and driven by innovation that tackles concrete problems. That means changing government tools and culture, creating new markers of corporate governance, and ensuring that corporations, society, and the government coalesce to share a common goal. 
We did it to go to the moon. We can do it again to fix our problems and improve the lives of every one of us. We simply can no longer afford not to. 
Here's a caveat, based on the text I have reproduced above, which comes from Mazzucato's website. The successful "moonshot" program was a governmentally-orchestrated program (operating from the top down) and it was a largely secret program that mobilized money and science to achieve the placement of a physical object (carrying people) on the moon. The public, on whose behalf the moonshot was carried out, were observers, not participants. This is quite a bit different from the program we need right now, which will require a large portion of the world's population to make or agree to changes in their individual lives that will be seen, at least initially, as a deprivation, and not as an addition to their personal well being. 

This is kind of a different assignment, I think!

We need to rally our "can do" spirit, which is maybe what Mazzucato is calling for, but we can't delegate the transformation of capitalism to a few governmental managers and scientists. "Capitalism" is, largely, the world's current method of governing our common life. 

It's not working out. Change is required. We can change. But....

We will all need to be involved! This "moonshot" will never take place if we are waiting to see it on TV!
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