A Case For The Arts And Social Sciences

Technology alone isn’t enough, said Steve Jobs. He was right

12/31/2016 3:07:32 PM
written By : Staff Reporter Print

This article was written on a Windows notebook computer using Microsoft Word and fact-checked online, drawing information from the internet. It wouldn’t have been possible had Bill Gates and Paul Allen not co-founded Microsoft and Tim Berners-Lee not invented the World Wide Web. Technology has transformed the world. No wonder everyone from political leaders to parents urges the young to study science and technology. Those are the academic disciplines that help nations progress and provide the best and the most job opportunities in the world today. Has any other field of study had as much influence on the world? Are innovators like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Tim Berners-Lee rivalled by economists like John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman?

The English economist Keynes criticised the British government’s austerity measures during the Great Depression of the 1930s. According to Keynesian economics, state intervention is necessary to moderate the booms and busts in economic activity. In Singapore, we saw state intervention during the 2009 recession when the government announced a $20.5 billion Resilience Package in that year’s budget to help Singaporeans keep their jobs. There might have been no digital revolution had there been no Second World War which triggered massive US government intervention in various fields from the reconstruction of Europe and Japan to science and technology. The precursor to internet was ARPANET which was funded by the US Defence Department. America like Europe felt the influence of Keynes. 

Keynesian economics fell out of favour in the 1980s. The American economist Milton Friedman, who won the Nobel Prize in 1976, had a marked influence in the era of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, who were in power throughout the 1980s. They favoured economic liberalisation and privatisation. But the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 required massive state intervention again and led to a resurgence of Keynesian economics.

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