Inside Unjust Deserts
Table of Contents
Part I: The Fruits of Knowledge
1. Knowledge and Economic Growth
Part II: Just Deserts
Introduction to Part II
Conclusion: Earned and Unearned in the Era of the Knowledge Economy
A Note on the Philosophical Argument
Key Facts from the Book
Who invented the telephone? You might have said Antonio Meucci, if the largely unknown émigré stage technician could have afforded the $10 fee for patent on his "teletrofono" that he had designed more than five years before Alexander Graham Bell's patent.
A 1995 MIT study found that eleven of the fourteen most medically significant drugs developed over the previous quarter century originated with research financed by the government.
The popular heroic tale of the steamboat's invention by lone genius Robert Fulton missed the fact pointed out by his biographer that "not one of the essential devices used by Fulton was new."
The frames of airplanes depended upon production of light-weight aluminum that drew on a long history of chemistry research leading to an electrolytic method which in turn required mass generation from public hydroelectric plants to bring it to scale.
Gregor Mendel's genetic theory was ignored for more than a generation after his death until statistical methods became common place as a "way of knowing" and Mendel was rediscovered as the "father of modern genetics."
As late as 1770 British factory production had been only two to three times as fast as hand weaving and spinning in India. By 1820, however, Britain could produce sixteen times as much cloth for the same labor effort.
Plowing, planting and harvesting one acre of wheat took an estimated fifty-four labor-hours of work in 1829. By 1895, innovations reduced this figure to less than three hours.
In 2004 federal government funding accounted for nearly two thirds of all basic research done in the United States.
70 percent of science citations in biotechnology patents are from papers originating in "public science institutions."
As early as 1972 the Defense Department sought to persuade a commercial operator to take over the ARPANET. However, the market in data services was deemed too small at the time to invest in what has since become the internet.
According to one estimate, 30 percent of GNP is based on inventions made possible by quantum mechanics.
Microsoft had $1.9 billion in physical assets, yet nearly $330 billion in market capitalization in the year 2000.
By some estimates, 80 percent of economic growth over the past century was created not by technological progress - rather than by labor and capital inputs.
Before 1650 there were fewer than 10 scientific journals published in the West. By the mid-twentieth century, some fifty thousand has been founded.
The richest 1 percent of households owns nearly half of all individually owned investment assets - the bottom half of the population owns less than 1 percent.
The distribution of income and wealth in the United States is more unequal today than at any time since the 1920s.
The world's wealthiest man, Warren Buffett believes that "society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I've earned."
Economic output per hour worked has increased fifteenfold since 1870.
In 2000, college and university libraries in the United States held over 900 million items.
Human cognition developed from the "episodic" memory of apes, to the capacity for "mimesis," to the "externalization of memory" in which our knowledge was stored and accessible for reference, communication and revision.
Agricultural economist Vernon Ruttan attributes more than 50 percent of modern agricultural productivity growth to a combination of public-sector research and increased education in farm communities.
As late as 1969 more than 75 percent of basic research and development in aeronautics was financed by the federal government.