Readers of Hbl may, in the issue of Ons 14 August, p.10, have noticed an article titled “Det nordiska varumärket kräver bättre omvardnad” which reported about some ideas and predictions of “framtidsforskaren Joakim Palme” (incidentally a son of the late Olof Palme). One prediction was that “Om man ingenting gör, kommer systemet att bryta samman. Men vi har ännu tid att tänka långsiktigt”.
Of course the prediction feels realistic: it looks very much that the conservative parties will continue for a while to be in power in the larger EU countries and that their tendency will continue to be, in the line of Angela Merkel, to cut down on state spending whatever the consequences for less well-up citizens (and never mind that this very policy was leveling the way for Hitler in Germany during the years around 1930). Thus it will continue: people being kicked out of their jobs, wages being cut down, less money being around to be spent, less income for the state, less money for social purposes (and in the background US-minded “progressives” who will think that “healthy”). And nobody in sight who seems reasonably capable of thinking “långsiktigt” (though there may be a few who seem willing).
Thus, what should be done? Every now and then there is mentioned a wish for “a new Nokia”. And the idea is not bad: develop something which many will want to have and sell it to them, earning money of which the state gets at least a share and the consumers, via wages, another share. But, from where to get good ideas for a new Nokia? The existing bigger firms will do some research and development , but only along the line in which they have already specialized. That does bring some money, but not more than some. No new Nokia there. And if the government would ask from them what good ideas there might be around, they would ONLY come up with ideas along their already existing line of work (and especially such ideas for which already have the patents). The point is that they feel something like responsibility only for their own accounts, only very rarely for the whole system.
And if there are no ideas to be had from the firms, could perhaps our politicians produce some? Sorry, they are VERY mostly neither trained nor even interested in technology, although in fact selected for (among others) the ability and willingness to applaud the ideas of those from whom they hope for promotion (which may be the reason why idiotic ideas such as a railway tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn have such a long, tough life: somebody high up just likes the idea …). Thus (and true to the mechanisms of freudarxism), not much hope there.
Readers of Ny Tid may remember that I had myself at one time some “Technical visions”. And I can inform that I have them still, plus some further ones. What about floating wind power, flying wind power, floating solar power, better forms of the velomobil, airships? Taking airships as an example: they can lift big loads over difficult terrain and put them down onto even very small places, without needing a runway (which is good for, e.g., the delivery of aid in emergencies, but also good for regional passenger traffic), they also can stay in the air for very long times (which is good for all types of supervision jobs), and several African countries are reportedly thinking very hard about the possibilities of airship traffic. With African countries there is of course the question how they might be able to pay, but there one could remember how James Watt (of steam engine fame did): he delivered his engines and asked the buyers to pay from the money which they were saving by using the engines. Altogether, there are in fact ideas around (the government would just have to ask for them – and I certainly do NOT think that I am the only one to have ideas …), one might be able to sell the resulting products, and this even to the actual benefit of the buyers and of Finland.
If one now imagines a usual politicians who has some technical ideas on his/her desk and should somehow react to them, the next problems are obvious: neither s/he nor his/her superiors are qualified to say whether an idea is realistic and promising. Thus, there should be INDEPENDENT engineers around to whom one could turn for advice. Further, the politician should be willing and able to reject the trend which has been set by the Chicago School of Economy plus various US governments, namely that the government should keep out of all such economical details and leave them confidently to private enterprise. Of course politicians should LISTEN to advice (and ask for more), but ACCEPT only such advice which they have in fact understood themselves. I do think that the Chinese tradition is here a good example: it says that whenever there is a bigger problem affecting the people then it is the government’s job to do something about it (and it may be a symptom of this tradition that not so few higher members of the present Chinese government are trained engineers). With the Western habit of seeing a problem but then just holding out rewards in order to encourage private enterprise to do something about it the experiences are anyway “less than perfect” (because private enterprise tends not to care about possible – or VERY real – side effects).
Altogether, against all the rules of the Chicago School of Economy I should recommend that the government, in its search for “a new Nokia”, should invite ideas from the public, try its best to find and pay good advisers and also CAPABLE (not just believing but greedy) managers, then raise and invest money into productive enterprises and, once these are up and running, also keep a controlling share in them (so that they are not immediately sold to -and soon killed by – speculators), this way creating conditions under which it even would be possible to think and act “långsiktigt”.