Monday, May 9, 2011

To Progress, We Must Risk: But Do We Dare?

Over at Economix, David Leonhardt interviews Tim Harford the author of an upcoming book called Adapt: Why Success Begins With Failure on the subject of risk-taking in both the public and private sector. It seems quite clear that both innovation and scientific breakthrough require risk-taking.

While I certainly agree with Harford that we need to take risks in order to progress, I wonder if our current political system is really able to deliver very well on that. It seems to me that it can sometimes be politically dangerous to experiment. After all, if you have to fight tooth-and-nail just to have the government fund things like high speed rail that are not as experimental, how much more difficult will it be to secure funding for projects that are much more experimental, where any particular project may not amount to anything, but nonetheless are the type of projects that will eventually be the source of great innovation, progress, and human flourishing?

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