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Kevin Tinholt

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Innovation - More worthy than fighting poverty?

The average person now lives a better life than the wealthiest man 100 years ago, but only if you're from the western world. This all because of the blessing of creativity imposed on man himself.

In recent years there have been countless of new inventions such as advanced medicine, mobile phones and of course the internet. However, do these inventions substitute for the many problems of today's world? Does a drug designed for a wealth disease (diabetes) weigh higher than a drug designed to help those who are worst of?

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Closing Statement from Kevin Tinholt

Good to see that there are still people that think differently, instead of white and black.

  • Apr 7 2012: I would take task with your first statement, the average....but only in the western world, that is patently and unequivocally wrong, if great poverty does exist widely and globally.

    As to your question "weigh higher" serves us a question based in morality as to right or wrong, and even assume that in lieu of the immoral choice, the moral choice could have been achieved.

    Yours, moves in the vein of a common notion of universal rights and wrongs while supposing interchangeability in outcomes. As free men, I would prefer you the right to choose what you want to pursue, were you to pursue the solving of a problem of currency to the globe than I would support you in any way I could, and believe it of the highest endeavor. Where rights and wrongs, and motivations differ, I believe that we can not enforce what another should set their time and energy toward. With that said, I do respect a certain prioritizing.

    The following statement will seem a massive problem, and it is unfortunate, but read...

    200 million people drink unclean water in Africa......how terrible right, but...
    20 years ago 400 million people drank unclean water.
    20 years ago there were a little more than 600 million people in Africa
    Today there are a billion people in Africa.
    That means that 600 million more people in Africa drink clean water, today...
    a massive success.

    I guarantee you one thing, if Africa goes to two billion, or three in the next 40 years, there will be significantly more poverty in Africa than today, in percentages & in absolute numbers. So while we have a responsibility to our fellow man, they have a greater responsibility to themselves. Further, this Western world, post-colonial, civil rights, dis empowerment movement crap needs to end. People need hope and education, not oh woe is me it is not fair, sympathy crap from the developed world; the developed world needs it to, & more responsibility for ourselves in the face of what the public owes us, in spite of what they want
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    Apr 4 2012: what is that exception made about "only in the western world". many places have came out or comes out of poverty just now. billions in china, in india, in brazil and many other places using the very same techniques that lifted the west out of poverty, and of course it is working for them as well.

    but even the poorest parts of the world sees the benefit of inventions. why otherwise the population would have risen so fast in recent history? certainly because child survival and life expectancy rose.

    especially intriguing that you mention cellphone as a western luxury item. actually, cellphone and internet coverage in developing areas are very much interconnected with progress. i believe there was a TED talk covering this issue, don't remember which. but the fact is that cellphones accelerate economic growth like nothing else.
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      Apr 4 2012: I think the west was the first one to effectively have private property rights in conjunction with a rule of law and a constitution which generally enhanced the individual over the collective.
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        Apr 4 2012: that analysis is the same that mises said. so i tend to accept it. so what we need is personal freedom, which leads to innovation of all sorts, which leads to wealth.
  • Apr 14 2012: No ! We have a moral obligation to help others who want help to ride their country of poverty. A lot of times it has been used as a weapon against its own people to keep them in check. I think today in to social media age the fight is in some ways easier and in other ways its harder because regime involvement I think you could say that it is more worthy to fight poverty with the help and use of innovation.
    Inovations can be low cost and help in the fight against poverty, but when I speak against poverty I include the fight against childhood illnesses that the western world has long conquered. I think your statement should read Fighting poverty is worthy of innovation. The use of innovations to help fight poverty and achieve a world were poverty and old childhood illnesses ceases to exist.
  • Apr 5 2012: You cannot fix poverty.

    Humanity strives to better itself. Some people are more successful because of physical ability or mental ability or pure chance falls upon them. These individuals who have the advantage see how it increases their comfort. They do what it takes to remain in an advantagous state. Using business in any aspect to further increase an individual's wealth is just common sense so the individual can sustain their current comfort levels. Inadvertently their success in the production of some product or service will make others poorer because the individual offering said product or service is trying to make a profit in order to sustain or increase their comfort level.

    Some people are so unlucky they are without the chance to even play the game and are many times unable to even use the land to survive because some individual somewhere owns it and has it protected. They protect their investment because that is what keeps them at their current status level and comfort level.

    Until you can convence the world and I mean everyone in the world to do things without profit and offer them to anyone who is interested without personal gain, you will not find a way to stop poverty. No level of innovation will fix poverty and no matter how many sick and starving people their are, there will always be those that only think about personal gain and comfort level.

    Plus, poverty isn't a bad thing. Poverty gives people the reason to innovate.

    Example:
    So and so figured out a way to do something at 1/3 the cost. They now have more money to live more comfortably because they have elevated themselves. Without the urge to save where ever they could in order to survive, they may not have discovered or invented a method of saving money.

    Poverty is a driving force. Whether you are in poverty fighting to get out or have money striving to stay away from poverty, it is still the motivation that pushes us to innovate.
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    Apr 4 2012: What is the focus of your question?

    Innovation is the only way to effectively fight poverty? Spare me socialism sophistry.
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      Apr 4 2012: Innovation is such a broad question, I should have elaborated on it a bit further. What I was trying to convey was that innovation, even though good as a whole, should it always be put ahead of approaches to fight poverty. Let say you have to allocate resources to one of these causes, would it be more worthy to invest in the innovation of let us say the surveillance of airports or the welfare of those in need?
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        Apr 4 2012: Don't worry about the lack of focus it is one of the casualties of technology.

        “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”
        ― Milton Friedman

        The trick is to let the individual decide which he will pay for and maybe it is neither. EG Israels airport security cost a fraction of the US homeland security yet is more effective. Which one would the individual rather pay for? As to those in need the above quote is apt.
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          Apr 4 2012: Back to the quote. Freedom again, quite a broad ideal. I guess in relation to Israel and the US airport security it is all a matter of how these particular things are executed. I nevertheless do not agree with freedom being the sole perquisite to equality. Class struggle is not a thing of the past and so are other basic human characteristics, freedom in a sense of complete freedom without control (Anarchy?) or as not being suppressed by fear of, well basically, anything? I must admit that I'm not a fervent reader of Milton Friedman (Even almost confused him with George Friedman), so I'm not sure what he actually means with freedom.
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        Apr 4 2012: Freedom has a balance to it, in other words complete freedom without any barriers is hell ( see the link) at the other end is all barriers

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wnevk-6h6aI

        There never has been and never will be equality that is a fallacy. The best situation has been demonstrated in the quote.
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    Apr 3 2012: Since you posed this as a debate, I would support innovation over 'fighting poverty'. Innovation has succeed in providing for our level of wealth. It was not 'fighting poverty' that has produced our successes. (I don't believe we can 'fight' poverty, we can only create wealth and 'distribute' it better.) The critics of innovation and its resulting wealth do not criticize the innovation, but the distribution of the innovation's benefits. Those in the fields of economics, public policy, human morals and ethics, need to 'innovate' new ways of providing incentives and a better regard and inclusivity for the world's population, and 'phase-out' these antique and exclusive methods of the spreading of benefits, like the technological and industrial innovators have done in their fields. The power of innovation is even futher demonstrated by why they haven't yet - because there's currently 'no money' in it. There's nothing to 'sell' and 'own' that somebody can 'buy'. To 'fight poverty' is to concetrate and focus efforts on the problem, to 'repair' what is no longer effective. Innovate to replace and improve and the old problem dissapears.
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      Apr 4 2012: In my opinion, there is money in the business of elevating people from poverty. It all kinda comes to what your field of expertise is. Moreover, greater participation in the global market would create more jobs for people around the globe (though this is only party possible if we fix our energy problem). However, I think that boosting these kind of developments does indeed not provide the results necessary, as it will take a couple of generations for a society to develop Laissez-faire.

      On another note, take for example a random Pharmaceutical company. They have the option to develop two drugs, one creates a better life for a disease that is uncommon in the underdeveloped world, but does have some severe cases in the Western, enough to create a demand. The is a drug that treats malaria. Now suppose they have the same budget and both are deemed to make some kind of profit when finished. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that the drug developed for the Western world will make a bigger profit on average. Would such innovation then be better, more worthy, than a drug that would improve the lives of billions of people?

      I don't say Innovation is bad, I'm a profound supported in fact. Still to what point can we ratify innovation if it leaves other areas untreated? Or do we again arrive at the most profound of human flaws, greed?
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        Apr 4 2012: Thank you for responding! Again, since this is a 'debate', I will counter (I'm not very skilled with the debate format): only through continued innovation can we hope to elevate more people from poverty, but the innovations must come from the social sciences as well as the tech and industrial ones. The social sciences are not 'keeping-up' with their tech and industrial counterparts, as far as practical innovation goes. When will we realize that having half of the world's population unable to participate in the world economy and not be able to purchase the goods we make is foolishly unproductive, unprofitable, and just plain bad for everybody? We need new 'innovations' in social sciences to rectify this ridiculously inefficient means of distributing participation and capability. The loss of potential human resources and productivity from this massive inefficiency to contribute to the overall well-being of mankind is incalculable. Wealthy people think they are wealthy now, just think of the wealth available if everyone was able to participate. We've tried other forms of 'equitably distributing' wealth, yet tech/industrial innovations keep marching forward exponentially and more and more societies are embracing its benefits. The next step is for social sciences to develop 'innovations' of inclusion, and eliminate exploitation all together. To do this, people need basic security, health, education, and a realization of their significance. In this, we will have 'fought poverty' and won.
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          Apr 4 2012: The social sciences are quite fragile, not because they don't hold some kind of truth, but whether that truth is true for every generation and every culture will need more time before we arrive at any certainty. Right now the demographics are rather limited to University/College students.

          So isn't it more about the initiative to provide these things than just the innovation connected to the ideas? I mean for ages they have been philosophizing about the European union, still we haven't come much closure to a complete union since its rectification.

          When it comes to economics and underdeveloped countries we do still need some better concept than we currently have. Because we used to think that the west and the east were two different world with their own parameters, later on we came to the conclusion that most of it was the same. However, now we are again at a crossing point of what a good model is and lets us rethink not only the model of the underdeveloped world but also of the world we currently inhabit. This is what I mean with the fragility of the social sciences.
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    Apr 3 2012: Are you thinking that the internet and advances in medicine are at odds with improving the lives of people currently living in poverty? Or do you believe those advances can and are leveraged to try to improve the lives of those living in poverty, through, for example, providing access to education and training, allowing international collaborative problem solving, and furnishing medicines useful in treating diseases like malaria and HIV and concentrated food stuffs that can help children in emergency situations?
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      Apr 4 2012: I'm merely posing the question to what extent we can support innovation. Of course, these technologies such as mobile communication and new crops have affected the lives of billions, I certainly don't disagree with that. Still, till what extent may we support innovation facing these ravaging problems in society?