Public spending: how and where?
@Matteo I remember a discussion arising from this post. What is the role of government? The ‘operating system’ plays a major role… It’s almost absurd to expect a bureaucrat doing full time bureaucracy work to speak the language, know the needs etc. of projects that are relevant. Yet if the bureaucrat spends more time on oversight and less on command & control, leaving the latter to the people who have experience in the field, it’s probably more effective and cheaper.
Another thing I’ve been thinking about in the context of Open Insulin. Leaving aside if Open Insulin is the right approach, consider any project that is a long shot, ambitious and with a potential big impact on many parts of the world. It’s hard to disagree (in my opinion) with long shots for systemic changes in eg. pharma industry, based on ethics. I haven’t met anyone who is against it in principle, also not in government.
Though only a smaller part of such an impact is realised in the city where the project resides. In my experience, a city wants to support projects that have an impact in their city, the impact beyond that is of minor importance. Or, more extreme, they will deliberately not support you so that you go search funding up the chain, such as regional grant, because that results in an inflow of money into the city from elsewhere.
Not so popular to be funded by the city, due to the above, but also because they would rather support projects with an immediately visible impact, such as helping disadvantaged children or establishing a development aid link with an African town. This is of course great, but it is a form of symptom treatment, and for the cynical, mainly about the funder’s next election cycle. Policy now seems more about adding new rules and exceptions to help very specific groups who have been disadvantaged, rather than taking ambitions decisions that address the root and affect everyone - from the same disadvantaged to the shrinking group of privileged people - to change the legacy of outdated rules. It should be a balance, naturally, but it’s way skewed to the wrong side now.
A trick is to tie some concrete city level impact to the project - I guess OpenRampette would be a good example. Yet this is not always possible, especially in more complex projects.
Higher up there’s also close to no room for eg. an Open Insulin in more formal and bigger funding programs. Rigid structures, but also lots of lobbying going on from, in the case of Open Insulin, big pharma. There, your chances are tiny and attempts are expensive. Ping @Lucy , maybe you can also pitch in.
Personally I see potential in the role of the city, just because there seems to be more room to be creative for those who dare. These long shot projects are not expensive in money either, especially considering the potential outcome. If five girls & guys in their garage can have a shot at changing an industry, imagine what a city could do. How badass would it be to read in the newspaper: “The city of Milan supports open source treatment for diabetes induced blindness”.
So should a city support what emerges in their city, even if the impact is proportionately realised mainly outside the city? Considering they are dead in the water elsewhere, is it ethical not to support these projects at a city level?