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Just a Few Ways Corporations Kill Innovation in the United States

By FZ - Posted on 07 July 2011

- Originally blogged by Mark Karlin on Buzzflash

July 4, 2011- Innovation used to be a hallmark of America, and so I read with interest about a July 4th Declaration of Innovation that declares,

We, the people of the United States of America, hold these truths to be self-evident - that great innovators drive America's unsurpassed economic success; that innovation creates jobs, markets and industries where none existed before; and that innovation moves us forward as a nation, pushing us to succeed and strive for a better tomorrow.

Unfortunately, for far too many Americans, the Fourth of July is a nostalgic celebration of past "glories" rather than future opportunities.

The American spirit of innovation was fueled by several factors, but key among them were our strong higher educational system that was open to people of all economic and social backgrounds (even if at the community college level.) The universities and colleges were backed by state and federal funding. Across the United States now, most recently in New Jersey this past week, higher educational funding is being dramatically cut, amputating our ability to prepare innovators for the future.

Much of the for-profit corporate innovation in America has come as a result of federal government investment in research and programs that are then applied in the for-profit sector, but really paid for by the taxpayer.

What is stifling innovation on this July 4th is not government, which exerts rather limited influence over our daily lives (and that is the freedom we celebrate), but global corporations who seek to eliminate competing innovation from the marketplace. Furthermore, when corporations and banks are too big to fail, it means large for-profit institutional survival supersedes the innovative abilities and needs of a democratic populace. Right now, the mass corporate media and the Washington elite perpetuate the concept that it is government - when it is the corporations and Wall Street - that are creating the economic conditions that restrain individual economic opportunity and the freedom of opportunity that results in innovation bubbling up.

Nothing is a greater example of this than the successful decades long effort of oil companies and the Detroit car industry to maintain our dependence on fossil fuels - and the oil industry pressure (while being subsidized by taxpayers) to limit government investment in alternative energy, which would create perhaps millions of new jobs, lower the national debt, lower our trade imbalance, and lead to the exporting of new energy technology products abroad. Even more importantly, it would allow us a more independent foreign and military policy that doesn't cost hundreds of billions of dollars to "control" oil producing nations in the Middle East.

Finally, even when corporations do use the profits that they are sitting on to do research and create new products, they are now generally manufactured overseas (are any of your computers, mobile or smart phones made in the US? Uh, no.), resulting in little more than administrative and warehouse jobs in the US -- along with the research staffs. Moreover, even information technology design positions and research are being increasingly outsourced to other nations.

So when we declare our independence on July 4th, it should be from corporations and financial institutions that stifle innovation and job growth right here in the US.



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