"How do the Arts Contribute to Capitalism and Economic Development?" Why? Radio Episode with Guest Patrick Kabanda
12:08AM Apr 16, 2020
Jack Russell Weinstein
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Hi, I'm jack Russell Weinstein host of why philosophical discussions about everyday life. On today's episode we will be asking about the role of the arts and economic development with Patrick kovanda. In 2017, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci sold for 450 million dollars. Two years before that, Willem de Kooning sold for 300 million. When people think of the economic value of art, these are the kind of things that come to mind, paintings, investments, commodities that are bought and sold for profit. This point of view is made all the more dramatic by the fact that many of these paintings are never viewed again. They're housed in special climate controlled darkened warehouses protected from both the elements and prying eyes, what is the value of art that is never seen? This is a conundrum equal to Barclays puzzle about a tree falling unheard in the forest. What is the value of a painting that has never sold? That's easier? It's zero. Irrelevant answer because just a few months ago, Vanity Fair reported that the 450 million dollar DaVinci is missing. No one knows where it is, and you can't sell what you don't have. Notice that the two questions I just asked are very different types. What is the value of a painting that is never sold as a question about money? What is the value of art that has never seen is about the human experience? The first is an economic question and the second is about meaning and beauty, a dichotomy that almost all of our discussions of the arts fall into something is either valued in terms of exchange or it is valued in terms of the abstractness of human creativity. It is either priced or priceless. Put, suppose there's something in between Suppose art is valued, not just for the product or the experience, but for the skills that cultivates the connections it makes and the progress that inspires. What if art is actually a key component of economic development, not just because it is bought and sold, but because it inspires, communicates and promotes equality. To take one simple example, people all over the world want faster internet because they want seamless access to streaming services, like Netflix and Spotify. In other words, one of the major reasons why scientists developed 5g technology is so people can have more access to art. Yes, the cost of subscriptions we pay for online services are included in GDP calculation, but that desire for art is not and that is a problem. Economics does not do well with things that can't measure. It invents terms like human capital, so it can quantify education, or political capital so can assign numbers to influence that very word capital specifically designates wealth that can be used to add value to itself. It refers to money or assets for investments for starting companies or building things that increase capital. It is money used to make more money. So if capital is only good when it is used to achieve something else, then this means that for economists, human and political capital, education and influence, are also only good for what they can accomplish, not for the experiences they provide, to understand what I mean, just think about sending your children to college, which would make you happier, your kids coming home and telling you they have a job lined up, or then returning and announcing that they're so glad they went because it was really interesting. Not many people would pay $100,000 in tuition for four years of Oh, wow, cool. I'm glad I know that now. Let's do something else. But of course, I fall into the same dichotomy again, I'm suggesting that it's one or the other, that either education has economic worth, or it's just a better experience. We have to find a way to avoid this caricature. We have to find a way to talk about human creativity in a way that shows that economic and human value go hand in hand. This is our guests task. On today's show, we're going to talk about the economic value of the arts copyright laws, upward mobility, tourism. But we're also going to discuss the role of the arts in innovation, social cohesion and preventing violence. We're going to ask how we can measure creativity and whether we can increase it for also going to try to explore what it means to cultivate it without measuring it at all. Often, doing philosophy involves creating a new language in order to avoid falling into intractable problems. But this time, our task is different. We're going to see if we can liberate economics from its own limitations. We're going to discuss money and the arts without letting one eclipse the other. This is no small task, but it will be no small victory either. If we reconcile the arts and wealth, we may be able to heal capitalism.
And now our guest, Patrick kovanda aims to link the arts and International Affairs. He has earned bachelor's and master's degree at the Juilliard School of Music, and masters of Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He's consulted for the World Bank of the United Nations performs as a musician around the world. And is the author most recently of the book, the creative Wealth of Nations can the arts advanced development? Patrick, welcome to why.
JACK, thank you very much for having me on your show. And before we proceed, I must congratulate you for the 10 years you're celebrating this year. Is that correct? 10 years this year? That is correct. Thank you so much. Congratulations, because I think this topic, your show, why philosophical discussions about everyday life. I think it's a wonderful show. And I think I wish you another 10 lawyers and maybe another 10 and 100, and so on.
Well, I appreciate that very much. And if we're here that one, I expect you to be my side. Part of it at least for those folks listening if you'd like to comment on the show, you can find us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. All as at why radio show one word why radio show? Or email us at ask why at UMD. edu and listen to all of our previous episodes for free and find information about our future shows at wire Radio show.org. So, Patrick, I'm super excited that this because you are really interesting, dude. I mean, you've had a really fascinating life and you've combined a lot of things that I personally take an interest in, but I think lots of other people do. You can be described as a musician who has been pushed to theory, or as a theoretician who has another life as a musician. Is it fair to divide your activities up like this? Is the division too Stark? How connected are the music and the three parts of your life?
A sit jack that that's great question comes up. In fact, as I had mentioned, To audio, I have some friends and some strangers have asked me that why should I concern myself with issues dealing with economics and public policy? Why don't I just play music? It's much better to play music. But I think there's a place for artists to be involved in public policy debates. When we are talking of issues of arts education, I think the teachers themselves we teach the arts are the best people to tell us what we could do to improve the experience of education. When we are talking of issues of copyright, I think is we should have wonderful lawyers. But I think we will also talk to artists to see what works for them and what could be improved. That's wonderful. And of course, there's been a huge debate, for example, on taxes in the United States. And as people from higher incomes, get favorable tax rates, some artists, for example, are struggling under I think it's important for artists to have a say in that. And of course, I'm on issues of therapy. And of course, if you travel like I do, the issue of visas comes up. So if you want to go to play a concert somewhere, and the visas are very difficult to get, it becomes a problem to actually even share my art. And of course, as the person who participates in this, I must pick up. But I may be lucky to be in this tier, for example, in the United States, but they are artists from countries which it's actually a very difficult to travel. And I think we should recognize those kinds of things. If you want to share art more democratically, and also have more voices participate in this experience of the
arts. You. I think you make a good case for that you make the case in your book, and we're going to talk more detail about that later. But all of those examples represent the musician as having a special expertise which I get these Think that artists have a different sensibility that they would bring to public policy? Is there an artistic or creative way of thinking that maybe public policy wonks could use?
Oh, certainly. I mean, I think that let's look at the issue of pay because especially executive pay. I talked to a number of people and one of the issues which come up is that, oh, we need talented people. So that's why we have to pay our executives a lot of money. Because of course, we are buying talent and that talent deserve this kind of money. But of course, if you look at the problems you should get in places like Wall Street, of course, these executives or financial analysts, or even very high puffing economist also make mistakes, but they still get paid or bailed out big time. But When you look at the look at it, many artists I know and many I don't know work so hard. I mean of them work so hard, just because they love to share what they do, or they love their work so deeply. So I, I do a little bit in the book that you know, maybe people in other areas should look at having the idea that let me do something for collective growth because it will benefit everyone. Of course, it's nice to be paid very well. But I'm not being this just because I need to be paid so much, but I'm being as an artist who loves what they do, because what I'm doing brings meaning to me and others. And I think they are the x at a place where we can really learn a lot about that.
So there's so there's something going on where lots of people who work for high salaries. I mean, obviously we're not speaking but everybody but lots of people working for high salaries are pursuing what philosophers and economists would call extrinsic goods, right goods that come outside An artist looks at intrinsic goods, they do it because they love the art. And there is something more powerful character wise intellectually just dramatically as someone who is involved in in the project because they love the project. Do you think that? Do you think that that translates to public policy? Or is that a set of skills that that intrinsic goodness, is that a set of skills that is, is has to be put aside for public policy debates?
No, I think they are connected. Let's look at the issue of for example, fear paper. I really believe that everyone Of course, I would love to be paid so much. I would love to be paid $1,000 per minute when I play the organ. That would be great. Or even more, but you know, I do it partly because I love what I do. But that doesn't mean that I shouldn't be paid at all. That makes sense. So I think what is reasonable is quite a central question of what we'll have to look at. And I think, if we start to say, well, in terms of fairness, I'm not saying that you know, who should be jealous of people who are making so much money and people have really hit a home run in what they do, and they really dumb on such large service. That's not what I'm saying. But I think that in terms of fairness, what about others? If you look at it, everything we do, is connected to other things. And that even the people at the bottom of the income ladder should also deserve to be paid a fair wage, especially when the cost of living is high. So it's not about maximizing my own salary because I'm the Executive. I'm the leader but also the How can I share this and sometimes it comes up in contributing to issues which are dealing with the public. For example, pink Fair taxes so that you know these taxes I invested in things which are for collective good.
There is something you mentioned, executives making mistakes and how everyone makes mistakes. And I ended up thinking a little bit about how musicians especially but but all artists, when they make mistakes, they have to keep going, you hit a wrong chord, you're off time you have to catch, you have to catch up, you have to get back to where you're going. And you have to just move past that moment that it didn't work. At the same time. You talk about the people at the lowest income level, people who often get forgotten the moment a musician in a band is forgotten, the entire band falls apart, right? You have to include all of the people with equal importance, even if someone isn't playing at the moment. And so does that mean that this creative process can't be captured by This larger economic discourses larger public policy discourse, I'm still really asking the same question, which is, to what extent are we engaged in two different discussions? And to what extent is that an illusion and really, this creativity, these, these this art, artistic ways, they really can be part of the whole conversation. We just have to nudge it or manipulate it a little bit.
Yeah. So for example, if you take the reasoning or the thought that I am a musician, or a painter, or photographer, because I believe that represents who I am, and it brings out the best of myself and others around me. And I should pursue that, regardless of how much money I'm being paid. That entire thought can be basically put into other domains. When you look at politics, I think people should go into politics to serve, because it's called public service. But if you go to politics to make money, then there's a problem there because then we are likely to get into issues of corruption. We all know too well especially in countries which are more middle income or low income but also in rich countries. So the same thing if you go to get a job as an executive, yes, you should be paid your way but what is the other thing beyond just making huge sums of money that is almost like a kind of service for collective good in that art as also should be brought up? Because if you look at it, you don't do it by yourself. And that's why you said in the band, if you're playing in a band, you're playing with others. The moment you start trying to play against others, you see how things start to go different ways. And how can we be collective. Only one thing we can learn from the earth if you have this solid on your that drum, you play the drums and Basically, you're not a very famous person who's playing the drums. And maybe the guitarist is very famous, if it's your time to play the solo, play drown you out, doesn't make any sense. I have to collaborate with you, even if you may not be as famous as your part is suspicious at that moment that we should celebrate it, and we should be playing together. So I think that's what I'm trying to say we can learn from the dads. And can't we're all in this together. And yes, definitely, we will never say everyone should make the same kind of salary. But what is it from the US of being and working together as a unit for greater good we can learn from the US? That's I think
so. And we have this idea, at least in the United States, and in many other countries, Western Europe. And Asia. I know, I don't know as much about South Africa, the South American continent or Africa, but there's the sense of In many, and this will come up in the second half of developed countries that leaders should be lawyers leadership should, should think like lawyers and technocrats and bureaucrats and, and but, but if we think of leaders, as creative people, as musicians, as artists, we have a different metaphor and a different way of thinking this and you actually start the book talking about this, you suggest that leadership can be created and thought of in terms of musical touch, would you talk a little bit about that, and what the, the idea of a leader as an artist brings to the table as opposed to a leader as a lawyer or a bureaucrat does?
First of all, I should actually that's a wonderful point you brought up but I don't something is a very big difference between leadership and management. That's the same kind of concept when you look at something I think we're going to talk about later on capital and capability. So basically, If I start from right there in capability, this capital, because of course, they are related, but it's beyond that, okay? Because capital, as you mentioned in the introduction tends to be considered just to material objects. What can I get in from this for myself, pretty much everything is basically quantified that way, but then culpability looks at it in more different ways. So in the same way, you can argue that, of course, in leadership, there is management.
a managing a problem is not the same thing as leading. That's why I like to joke that avoiding problems has never really served them. Right. A lead that will know that I cannot avoid this problem. If you're just the money, you're like, how can I manage to get out of this conundrum? And you find a way to walk out of it without actually solving it. Okay. So I think if we use that concept, Touch in this case, will mean in music do you play the piano? By the way,
I do play the piano a little bit. I consider it playing most people consider it nice.
So if you have a piano, maybe that guitar, even drums, but I think I'm using this mostly from the pianistic terms I used in the book, in that if I'm going to play big chord, of course, I need to use a lot of strength and the touch is going to be different from one place of play, I have to use a different kind of touch. Now life is basically like touch the Shiva sometimes you need these big chords and stuff. Basically just put it out there. But then there are times where you have to be subtle. And then of course the same track is varied. It's not like soft and loud. You have times when the left hand has to be accompanying if the touch or beat is quite, very soft, and the right time now is lead to solo out. So if you're my lead and then there's a group of people who are now in Be more leading from the behind. They attach with misophonia solos, which you have to bring out. Does that make any sense? It does.
And and I want to use an example. And I try very hard not to fall into partisan politics here. So I'm not saying anything specific about either person. But what it brings up is I think one of the fundamental differences between the American President Obama and President Trump is that President Trump has no subtlety right? At populism in general and the populist upheavals that a lot of countries are experiencing. There's no subtlety involved. Whereas President Obama had a very subtle touch and was very quiet in many respects, independent of political policies and things like that. And so I think this is a really useful description. Because if you think of a leader as a piano player, we can think of someone who is you know, Wagnerian pounding on the piano, or or making the orchestra go full blast at all times and then someone who is much more gentle, much more, one of the four. Vivaldi s. Right, that that is, and so we don't think about leadership in those terms at all is this I'm trying to phrase this question from an economic perspective. Does this prohibit the idea of Homo economic? Right? our tradition has this idea that there's a thing called an economic human being that makes rational decisions that maximizes their own good or pleasure, and that you can reduce all human behavior to that that's what we call home economics. Yes, yes, yes. But music, art, dance, the Creative Arts. I don't think it fits into that mold does it is is Homer economic is compatible with the creative human being.
Yeah, if you just want to make money and music, you know, you know, you can even Get robots to play. And these days, you know, we are talking about artificial intelligence so much. And I always wonder what has happened to natural intelligence? Because I think we still need our natural intelligence. But this will take me back to say like, for example, when I was growing up in Uganda trying to get to music, I was told, Oh, don't get around to play music, you're going to starve to death. So you see, that's using the economic argument, okay. There's no music, there's no money in music or the arts, to a certain extent is true, but I continue I will never be where I'm not seeing enough touch the sky but the friends I have the leaving I make an even I wrote this book using my musical training. So someone did not realize or the voices which promote this kind of not realize actually either benefits like, I have benefit. It's not just about making the money. Of course that's important, but for some of us, the outlet has been in a more differently, I did not if I just say door let me this abundant musicals are not make money, I would not have benefited so much, which turns out, okay, they're even some economic benefits. But they have come out and differently in that, that tax tends to be like a play like this and this is this is the way we should have it. But they are Socrates and the beautiful things which come out of other ways of looking at things. in political terms. I think one of the things President Obama mission is sometimes you need to lead from behind. And that's a very interesting kind of concept because that's almost a touch has to be a little softer. It doesn't mean that you're not there. But you know, in many of our problems we have in the world who have to work with other countries. Even these negotiations and trade and art as being on the table as different cultures, different values, means that sometimes you cannot always be pounding, as in the current moment to be like, because that's leadership is the positive Be distraught so much managing things that way you are doing them but not actually leading. I don't know if that answers the question but again, I think the arts can help us to see the subtlety okay how things can be subtle in moving for it doesn't mean that you're not there. But just remember that not everything is always fortissimo
from be great.
When we come back, I want to focus a bit more on the policy and economics and I want us to talk a little bit about development economics, and then get into the argument from your book. But for the moment, you're listening to Jack Weinstein and Patrick bond on why philosophical discussion but everyday life We'll be back right after this. The
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You're back with wide philosophical discussion that everyday life I'm your host jack Russell Weinstein, we're talking with Patrick kabocha, the author of the creative Wealth of Nations, about the role of the creative arts, in economies and in leadership and public policy. And it makes me think of something that happened a few years ago. Some of our long term listeners may know that, for reasons I cannot explain, I have a huge following in Iran. Two of my books have been published in Persian. I have many, many Iranian friends on social network. A bunch of my blog posts and videos have been translated also into Farsi into Persian And a few years back, one of the translators had arranged for me to give a lecture tour in Iran. I was super excited. It wasn't the best time of relations between the countries. But I was very excited to go there. We're going to pay for it. He arranged for a visa for me. But the problem is that we don't have diplomatic relations, Director diplomatic relations, so the visa was in the Pakistani embassy. And here's the problem. The folks who arranged it didn't understand how far away Washington DC and North Dakota was. They didn't understand that I couldn't just go to the embassy to pick up a visa. So I kept calling the embassy to try to arrange something. But the Pakistani embassy is notorious for never answering their phone. They just don't do it. They don't answer their phone. They don't respond to requests. They just don't do it. And so I could never contact them. I could never contact get my visa and I could never go to the other country. It's a great disappointment, and I hope that someday I Do it. Patrick, I tell the story because I think it's illustrative of this tension between how we expect governments to work and how governments in other parts of the country work. And this is captured in this phrase development economics, you are working in development economics, I wonder if you would talk a little bit about what development economics is, and why there's a special set of problems that may make it a little harder for someone in a developed country or in the United States to understand.
Yes. First of all, I think the term itself development has been a little bit associated, I think now these days with technology that the beta and wonderful shining technology is development. And of course, that's part of it. But beyond that, and also like big infrastructure projects. In the distribute nice, wonderful airports and I love beautiful airports, no question about that. And the highways which are working and stuff, and things like electricity, which they are all necessary, but then we forget that actually development is also this is for everybody. As an artist will tell, you always have to keep on improving yourself. And if you don't practice, you forget what you love, and you have to keep on improving. So in many countries, actually, you're talking about one course I'm lucky when I went to Julia, they took a course called the business of music, which they actually taught us that if you're going to go on an interview, be there at least 20 minutes early. So that's Kim from Juliet's code, and learn how to answer phone calls. Okay, because if you don't answer phone calls, you know, especially if you're new york city people, there are many, many other options. So you have to be able to pick up physically from and this was in a course a very serious cause. In fact, I think it's one of the things I learned in addition to playing the music. But you can realize where I'm getting at sometimes, for many countries, the bureaucratic procedure of getting the visa Actually, this is what happens if I'm going if I'm in some country, like maybe Uganda and Nigeria, trying to get a visa to come to the United States, not always the easiest thing. But I think there's a level of development with all this technology and stuff. Why should it be that difficult? And some countries have done very well here. I think I remember the first time I went Hong Kong to play concert, I was being paid to do this. And I needed a work visa, because of course, I would have to pay taxes and they sent my visa in the mail. I'll never forget that. Because nobody but for me See that's it. Hong Kong may have its own issues and stuff but she they had developed in a way that's how I wouldn't approach it that way. This is fiscal efficient, because you know, you know, the visa go to In time, it didn't get lost. But you can see how basically, this is a form of development. They may have a wonderful airport and things say, but if they can't get some of the bureaucracies like this to work in a developed way, then it's also not really under development. Does that make sense?
It does. It doesn't. And I received my visa to China in the mail. And I thought that that was very strange. Well, at the same time, there is a problem and a big portion of your book is is about this, which is that there are these countries that are post colonial that have this long history of being exploited for their resources that don't have what sometimes get called developed educational infrastructures. They don't have the same kind of mobility. They don't have the same kind of security in terms of social net as as some countries do. You talk about these countries, you talk about Uganda, you talk about how You talk about Zimbabwe, I think you have a very interesting conversation about in the city of Bogota, which we'll talk about in a little bit. Part of what you are trying to argue is that there's something that happens in the creative arts that will help us equalize the post colonial developing economies with the more developed I'll call them colonialist economies. How does that work? And why is this particular set of problems
in terms of how they can get promoted or make progress?
yes. By using the X is that yes, that's what you're getting. Yeah. So I took a course. And Professor, one of the very few African professors have I have had in my life or adult life, unfortunately passed away. His name was Calista Juma who was Kenyan. And I took his course on innovation, innovation systems. And this was in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And in that course, I learned that innovation is not just about building products. Innovation is also actually getting ideas to work. It's a very interesting concept because I've never thought because normally again, as I said a moment ago, innovation is associated with all the very nice, big, wonderful phone, physical product, but in from Calista Gemma No, no innovation can also be about finding new legal systems which are working. This is just an idea to get it to work. And, for example, in many countries, we may have laws on the paper, but they are not executed. How can we be innovative to get people to actually obey these laws? And I think when you look at our systems in countries like Uganda, yeah, we definitely need a lot of work. Wonderful roads and things like that. But also we can be more innovative or having inclusive education. And by that I mean that not everyone is going to become an accountant. Not everyone's going to become an engineer, but without a creative arts in woodwork. How can we translate this into design? and getting people to solve problems and political participation? How do they ask me? One of the innovations which happened, there was a scene the book when I was growing up, HIV, for example, was a big thing. classmates died. And as I mentioned, the book politicians give us pictures. Religious leaders, you know, preached and preached this issue that the one person who I think really made a difference was a musician who started to sing about AIDS, and was so relatable. But if you look at innovation, that was someone thought that maybe instead of approaching these problems by really getting positions to push out pamphlets and things like that, let's be more Innovative or creative and finding someone who can deliver this message. Does that make sense? So in this case, actually Uganda having the musical wonderful musician, are they using what they have to promote to make progress? So that's one of the ways I think you can look at these kinds of ways of making innovation work by using local knowledge.
Certainly, there is no more efficient and effective way of getting to young people than going through music. And actually, in fact, most people are affected by popular music in one form or another. And so if you can get a song, a pop song that is talking about safer sex or the dangers of HIV, that's going to have a profound effect. And I keep thinking back of someone you quoted in the book, it's one of my favorite points in the book, you write, or you quote, in the race for economic development, would you rather bet on a country with a million tons of endowed zinc or one with a couple of extra IQ points and a free flow of ideas, right? Part of what you're talking about is that, that what the creative arts do is create this opportunity for exploration of ideas, which is in many ways, more of a commodity and more development potential, then simple resources.
Yeah, exactly. And I think that idea came from an American economist called Tony g book calls, I hope I'm pronouncing his name right. And in his 2007 book called new ideas from dead economists. And I'm a big fan of titles and I think it really did nail it. And he was looking at how this because we always look at them in a different way deepens like you know, you may think you have but if you don't have the ideas to put this, to get this, basically use these communities, they are pretty much useless. And also, if you go further and look at people like me Your son who was famous book development has freedom which I'm sure you know, that book really He did not say development as money. But the venom as a freedom means a lot of things, freedom to be a study what you want freedom for women to be participating in the economy, freedom to walk freely, freedom to basically go find different opportunities in many, many different ways. Because in a way that people are not just constructed in one thing is a completely different way of looking at something as development as infrastructure, even though that's there, but I think this is a broader perspective, you know, basically, ideas and the freedom to pursue them is a very, very important factor in making human progress
are the creative arts and the freedoms to have creative exploration is that a barometer for general freedom in communities Can you have free flow of ideas without free flowing creative products and processes?
You can but they will not be as agile as they could be. I think maybe agile I hope is the right word and
in that we can have a system and I think actually pay the American
let's look at making a car and you have assembly plant you know that it's wonderful to have a there's a section which puts on tires and this section puts on other parts like maybe doors and all these things they are Come on the assembly plant nicely and this will create a system in which it works that way okay. And that's of course useful because things come up Papa Papa or in a wonderful way. But if you start thinking of other things where we have to be out of mechanical plant, we have to be more thinking In quite many different ways, what works in a certain extent will not work another extent, and vocalizing that will force you back. How do you get over this? Okay? I'll give you an example. And this is related in a way, but also maybe not so related. But the friend of mine told me a story of what I may call African economics. And, and the story, differentiating was somewhere maybe in Zambia, Malawi, somewhere around that part of the world. And the friend was working with a World Bank, stationed in that part of the world. So he went to buy items from a lady. I think it was either tomatoes or oranges or no sweet potatoes. I don't recall the details, but he said that, well, he told him that one time this gentleman who came with a big SUV and he looked at the products, the lady have listed the products we had tomatoes. I said How many? I was like, oh, maybe $10 batch of these tomatoes, baskets of tomatoes like he counted or 10 of them are great. Would you please put all of them in my cup? and looks at him and said, No, I won't say you can only have one or two. Because I have other customers who also want to buy, if you just take it by yourself, they will not be able to buy. So she refused. In the typical Western way, especially in America to be like, thank you very much. You can have order, but the kind of thinking like that it's not really to do with making music, but how are we sharing and making music together in society through that kind of thinking? Does that make sense?
It does make sense and it's really compelling because I heard a version of a similar story. A friend went to Cuba about 20 years ago, 2030 years ago, and there was this ice cream store that that had lots And lots of people waiting in line. And it was it was January, February. And my friend started talking to them. And they said, Yes, we closed the ice cream store in the summer, because the demand is too much, and we just can't handle it. It's that it's that same sort of thing. But there is this sense that the person who is selling the oranges, it's not just, they have the responsibility to make money, but they have the responsibility to be available and to attend to their customers. And, and to know, this, this phrase is loaded but to distribute the goods fairly. And, and that's a very, very different perspective, right? You have I don't know if you have this. I don't know if this is elsewhere in the world. But there's a phenomenon in the United States where young people will find a band, and they'll love the band and the band will be a little known band and then all of a sudden the band will have a big hit. And the fans will become angry. And they're like, I hate it that this band is popular right? For anyone who knows any musician knows what the musician wants is the largest audience possible they want. And so is it possible to balance this sense of responsibility? And distributive justice? Again, for lack of a better term with this desire to be secure, have success sell all of your products? Is there a way to navigate those tensions?
Yes. And the way to navigate those countries is digging deeper and seeing what is working for everyone. Okay. And if we go back to new ideas from the economists about the idea of Would you rather have things rather have a free flow of ideas, the freedom to exchange ideas that will mean like this, look around and see how is this working in different kinds of contexts, other than saying it's working, just for me alone, it has worked in California, then it must work in New Jersey represent one thing which is going on right now. Is the The wonderful innovators in the United States in many states, okay, but guess where most of the money goes, if you're looking for seed funding Silicon Valley because people want to make automatic physical return on my investment, that's where I should go. I'm not saying that's not right. But if 95% of it is going there, then you're creating another kind of problem, where like, there's a concentration of just wealth. In this one, or basically the investments are basically really pointing in one direction yet there are the people who need some seed funding to get their ideas also going. So who got back to the band issue indeed, some musicians would love to be famous sampling causes with all funds leaking my my feet but in the meantime, I know many artists and this definitely who doesn't want one don't want to be famous and who would rather be at a small place Really pursuing the art in it in a small sense. And also, I'm actually in right now producing a paper for the United Nations Development Program is for the Human Development Report for 2019, which is dealing with inequality in the 21st century. My portion of I'm preparing my portion the background paper deal with inequality within the x. And as I was doing research, it turned out that actually the superstars kind of phenomenon is common in the at all musicians. Basically, the superstars make a lot of money. Back then, those who are not in that category of superstars make nothing, right. Pretty much mean you can get lucky. It's not of course, black and white, a variation, but generally, we all thought that technology is going to bring all the fruits to everyone, and we'll be more democratic. It's not entirely mean someone can just covered, but definitely the ones who are enjoying the fruits of this kind of economy, I really tend to be the superstars. And that's why there's this tendency for, like if you can make it big and scale Great. Now, what's interesting though, is that a lot of famous musicians also know that there they are base. Their funds are the abyss, and that they try so hard to be that they accommodate their funds. That's why they may say like a beef I release a new album, which is going to be on iTunes or something. I'm going to allow fans to maybe download this for a very small fee of four for free for maybe a week, because they still want to keep their funds, I think following them, and of course, this in a way ended up promoting our work, as you know, but this definitely is no question that you know, it's tempting to become big and famous because there is a lot of money they have for the most part.
So so you bring up a couple different related issues that you address also in the book and I'm thinking of free distribution and, and piracy and intellectual property, I think was Radiohead a few years back, famously released their album online and said, pay whatever you wish, and the fans ended up paying as much as they would have paid if they had bought it. And then for decades and decades, the Grateful Dead would let anyone record their concerts off of their mixing board. And so you have this these thousands and thousands of Grateful Dead bootlegs that only increase the value of the Grateful Dead brand, right Grateful Dead. So you have this tension with the economics of creativity in the one hand, you have to distribute in order to make a name and the more that people hear your music, the more chance they have. To love your music. On the other hand, you don't, you don't want to pressure people to give their things away for free, especially if they're not making any money. So how does this tension between intellectual property and privacy and exposure? How does this relate to your project? And how does it relate to in particular to things like international trade? Does it make things more equal? Or does it as some bands suggest make things profoundly unjust?
Yes. So what has happened is that
because this again goes back to the idea of
putting emphasis on development in products other than ideas for me culture, music, painting ideas, pretty much there in that category. So these are the emphasis of exporting coffee, emphasis of exporting tea. Gold, minerals, timber, things like that. But very little emphasis on really exporting, even education. Because I argue that if you go to Africa, or Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, or Kenya to learn how to play African drums, that's actually international trading services.
This is actually a very important point in your book, and I think more controversial than people want to understand. And I think personally game changing that, to think of someone going to another country to learn a Nigerian drumming, and it was in Nigeria talked about not Zimbabwe, that was my mistake earlier, but this kind of cultural exchange should be thought of as an economic trade and not bracketed off. So can you talk about why that's important and what that does, because I think that that our listeners are probably not that aware of that controversy. And that's a huge Game Changing point that you make in the book.
Yes, yes. So as it turns out, adapt to the World Trade Organization came up with these four models of supplying services. And this has to do with trading supply. And I think to make it easy. Nick is is the example. Without even going to Nigeria to study African drumming, we can say if you go to Cuba, which I think that a few American Americans have done to get surgery of some sort. That's actually international trade. Okay. If Cuba or Germany or Italy sends someone here to teach music of the center professor and that person retains their citizenship is also international trade. Does that make sense?
It does make sense and and why? Why wouldn't it? Why would traditional economists not think of it as international trade?
Yeah, because the way things are taught On top of this, I recently talked to young, brilliant young students who are getting in a graduate program. And I told him that my book chapters, but these three chapters because I think chapter 456 are really to do with a trading services forming these modes of supply. I told her that when you, you, you, you get your phone here and you go and you find this website from Nigeria, and you find that is a link on nigerian music. And you decide to sign up for this link to stream music. Can you put in your credit card and pay? That's international trade in services? Which was like No, that's downloading. So if a student who is studying economics can think of it that way, then of course, you're not going to be surprised that if people who are not exposed to this kind of literature or think of it also, that is not trade, but it's partly because we are told in fact, we have gone way. The example I gave to the student was, you know, will be fabulous. I recall in Africa, we used to have better trade in that, you know, you had a wonderful kind of item, let's say, you make wonderful vegetable soup. And they do make chilies. So, so without money, we just exchange that was trade, but it was better trade. You see, we have not used money, but exchanging things or you make wonderful shots from cotton on from someplace or not dog. I think you have weeds around there. Wonderful bread. And maybe I make wonderful, the good Korean sausages from right here in Maryland to somewhere in Washington and we exchange them but was better trade. So without putting money into the system. So when money came, of course, that changed how things work. So today, services represent a big, big sort of sector but we don't think of it that way. Because Okay, you buy shoes online. And you order a book online, but you don't understand that if you go and start streaming music is actually also an exchange.
So we have this problem, right that economists First of all, they divide things into exchange and barter, as you said, they also divide things in terms of formal and informal markets, and then their black markets and gray markets. And and also downloading is hard to quantify, right? In that you can say, Okay, this is one download, you might even be able to say how much it would have been worth if you had paid, but economics doesn't work on you know, if you had paid economics only works on on you pay. And then there's another aspect that's complicated, that you also bring up in the book which is part of the Problem with creative goods is that they're mixed goods. They're both public and private. Yes. Why? First of all? Why? What do you mean by that when you say creative goods are both public and private? And second, why does that? Why does that complicate things? And actually, I want to take a step back, and I want to explain something to the audience, which I think you'll be familiar with. Adam Smith makes this remark in the Wealth of Nations. I think it's Wealth of Nations, three more sentiments that women's work never enters the public registers. And what he means by that is that the work that women do the sewing, the cleaning, all of this stuff that has in theory, economic value isn't recorded in as as as GDP, although he didn't have GDP at that point. And so you are in essence making the same claim that creative activity and creative exchanges do not enter the Public Register. So you Why is this a problem? And why is the fact that it's public and private? Good? Why does that add complexity to it?
Yes, because the public good as you saw this public conduct, in his case could be a public service can look at it, it's for the public, it's for everyone to enjoy it. Meanwhile, privately as it is privately, you can enjoy it. So basically full blast music outside I kind of enjoy it here. But does it mean that my enjoyment diminishes someone is enjoyment, okay. And then there are some cases where you find that if I'm confined just to listen to music privately, my living room is very different from the kind of music which is played with outside where everyone can enjoy. And I think that that's makes makes it extremely complicated. And then we don't understand that even the public goods if want to create them, they must be invested in in That for everyone to enjoy art, art, museum arts education stuff, then there must be some sort of investment for public, the public sector, for example, to make sure that this works. Because if you just rely on people donating, maybe they rather do other things. But having a balance, we're having to see that, okay. Those public goods are indeed, for everyone to enjoy, we must find a way to be able to sustain them. But if we go back, I think to the issue of
the trade in services,
what I see is that many countries, especially those in Africa, I think without them realizing that only have a tradable item that you know, I know many Americans I could be wrong. I've never done a huge survey, but I run for who'd love to go to Africa to learn African music, and African drumming and things like that. But most of the countries in Africa don't see that as an export. Okay. And I think one is the way to look at it. A lot of the times go open up a magazine on some airlines going to Africa, you're going to see advertisements featuring safaris at all come and see Safari in the Serengeti or go go see wild animals. Does that make sense? That people asked to go see but very well they like you know, what if you come at some University, maybe Macquarie University in Uganda where I come from and spend the summer three months learning African does that education, but so, so part of international trade? Does that make sense? So let
me let me take a huge step, meta step, and let me describe the philosophical problems for the main problem for the audience. And first of all, tell me if I misinterpret you, but then but then let's let's see if we can summarize the main point. So there is a there's a basic philosophical question, which is, how do you measure the wealth of a nation right is Adam Smith famously said, you don't measure the Wealth of Nations by the amount of money in the borders, you measure it by the labor and the products. And so for 250 years, since since the Wealth of Nations we've measured the wealth of a nation by these things, GDP GNP, this the strange that not only what is created, what is produced, I should say in a nation, but what is traded, and what you are doing is you're coming along and saying, this definition is too narrow, because wealth should also include creative products, not just creative products that make money although many do, but creative products that promote knowledge and cultural exchange, that creativity should count as wealth, and that economics does not adequately allow for the measure of wealth in its true nature. Which is not just products and not just production products, but also what we've learned what we've experienced what we've traded the bread that we've bartered, the dances that we've learned. So am I correct in saying that your basic point is our definition of the Wealth of Nations is too narrow, we have to find a way to measure or to, I should say, include the creativity and the exchange of creative ideas and creative knowledge in order to adequately measure the Wealth of Nations.
Yes. And if we do that, it will allow us to consider that. For example, this question which comes up who used to cook Adam Smith's dinner? Right? Okay.
That's a book by a woman from 10 years ago, right? I think yes.
I think that comes up. Because then when we understand that Adam Smith was writing his book, but how to eat Okay, and the people preparing meals, the dinner comes up, because I think having wonderful dinner is always a good thing. So it comes up here, if we would count who used to cook, Adam Smith, you know, understand that, for example, a lot of housework, which many, many women do, doesn't get accounted into GDP. yet. It basically helps us to make progress. Because if a woman goes home cooks for you, and does laundry set you up, you're using that time, you're freeing up that time you're not paying for it. You're using it to do research to other things, or relax. Meanwhile, when you get a check, your check is counted in GDP, but the woman's contribution is not. And I think when we start from there, we can understand that indeed, other things, even other people contributed to the UN for the 2015 report on work for human development wasn't creative work. Okay. A little queasy. What maybe even musicians were playing the subway, we don't count them in GDP. But if they are they here if you are going in a subway and hear a wonderful song which inspires you, and you do very well, that inspires your mood, that's also actually contributing to some sort of progress, because in a way, you're going to be more productive. But that musician who made you happy for musicians who are playing this music, and not being compensated fair, but it does not mean that what they are doing is not important.
Does that make sense? It does make sense. So now I want to take the next step. And I want to I want to repeat a claim again, then I think I understood from your book, and then I want to ask you a question about it. So we've established that one that your main argument is that the measure of wealth is too narrow, you have to measure you have to measure creative exchange as well. So then you go along and you say if I understood you correctly, and that means that places like Nigeria Places like Haiti, places like Uganda are actually wealthier than we give them credit for. Because we make all of this stuff that they can do invisible. It doesn't count. So they're so they're so they're poor. So so I have that right, correct?
Yes, that's correct. Okay. In fact, I, before I forget, I must mention that I am trying to write a piece. We also should even get rid of a term developing and developed countries, okay. The reason because of that is again, thinking about the issues you're bringing up from the book, because if you're always looking at Haiti as a developing country, you don't consider that wonderful art they have. I don't know if you've seen some Haitian art, some of the amazing, most amazing artists, but we don't hear much about it because we are obsessed with the problems, right? If we start looking at the way they're very competitive, if they use the economic word when you look at them from their culture, even Okay, I'm not saying that I have explored that The issue of saying that cuisine is part of why not for their food is so remarkable. Okay? If you really look at their music, look at their paintings, the food, even if you're even looking at scenic beauty, which actually Japan comes, which I note in chapter nine, they were worth it. But we look at them in terms of GDP, and we're shortchanging them. So when they come to negotiate for loans, or as a poor country, we already you know, if I'm negotiating with you, and I know that, you know, you're, I'm doing you a favor to invite you, you see what happens?
So, you've actually just hinted at the answer to the question that I want to ask. So here's the question that I want to ask. So So okay, these countries, Haiti, Uganda, Nigeria, they're, they're wealthier than we give them credit for yet, but then someone who's listening to this conversation could come along and say, that's all fine and good. That's all very pretty and philosophical, but they're still poor. They still don't have food on the table. How do you respond to that? And what does this new category of wealth give them that allows them to get past that poverty? Other than saying, Well, you know, life isn't really suffering rather than saying, you know, they're not really poor. It's an illusion. Of course, many of these people are poor. And many of these people don't have have have adequate food or shelter or sanitation, access to toilets and things like that. So to the person who hears this and says, but they're still poor. What does this offer?
Okay, that's where I think where I really want to write this book. Because if you're looking at them in terms of money, and that definitely GDP wise, of course, he could use more resources in terms of an instrumental dimension. That would mean that we are pouring in resources by record going back to I think one of the things you said, is really not about the things you have but the ideas and those ideas. For example, a lot of money He's being pulled into Haiti, but you hear what happens to that money. It normally doesn't get to where it needs to go. Because we have not figured out a system to make it work, that it's actually going to help the poor. So I'm part of a reason why this is important. If you're always looking at this, like you're saying that, Oh, I'm not going to have a guest on my show, unless you all wanted $10 million
to come to this show.
Because, but you will bring in people who, you know, various backgrounds, because you are looking for the other kinds of enrichment, which has nothing to do with how rich they are. Does that make sense?
It does. But there's also, if I understood what you said in passing a couple minutes ago, there's also another element to this, which is, when the WTO decides who to lend money to, they can say, we'll look Haiti may not be able to pay us the money in this way. But when we disagree Repeat the money to the creative classes. If we distribute if we create exchange, then they can pay the money back in different ways. Yes. And so so by calling them wealthier, they become more candidates for the kind of capital. Yeah, that they need in order to get sense.
So basically, it's like, I'm going to negotiate, and you're all on equal footing. If you're just using the economic argument. America is going to negotiate with ha America's GDP is not trillions of dollars GDP. Geez, you know, I don't know if it even reaches, you know, anywhere in close to a trillion, but you know, then you have this weight where one country is so small and Solon is a huge continent, the power dynamics, but you would like if you come in looking at them and look at the culture is remarkable. They have this paint So, how can we do that we elevate that and then you negotiating as equal partners, then that makes a difference. And it makes a different loans. And then one thing which I wanted to say, I forgot was do with branding and with the ideas, right? Okay. So for example, if I make a shoe, okay. And that you say is made in France, okay. I am more likely to pay top dollar for that shoe. Okay. And that nuances here is that a some interview, I may go to Haiti and make that get that shipment there and takes it to France and slaps on a label. And they might buy it here from on Madison Avenue or some other store paying top dollar because they have this association in France and quality, okay, but recall that that she was actually in, in the first place made in Haiti. And actually, if you get into the issue of trade and value added, which I talked about in the book, it's called complicated because parts come from different kinds of aura. So branding is a very, very important concept when you look at ideas, because it's a branding the idea to try to make sure that you legitimize something. In other people's view. I think if you look at it, there's not really to do with advertising, they are quite completely different. So, if Haiti has a has a brand, as a poor country, no money starving all the time, that's a different kind of brand. Okay. If you look at Haiti, in terms of part, okay, creativity and other things, it's then reaching into some other kind of grant. Okay, so then, if I'm going to buy a shoe, if Haiti is also really celebrated for design, I'll be very proud to buy a shoe from Haiti, not just because I'm doing them a favor, but I'm really believing in their critical that has implications in the economic domain. Does that make sense?
Sure. So if so, if, if you buy a shoe because 18 cents French fashion houses, established their reputation, and you're paying an extra hundred and $50 for that French history, you're not really getting anything. But if you're paying for a Haitian shoe, where this Haitian creative market allows for a one of a kind, individual hand crafted special through, then you're actually getting more, even though the brand suggests that you're getting less
Yes. And that's what I'm saying we should check in that we should celebrate that creativity regardless of that GDP. Sort of metric.
We've gotten to the core of the issues we There's wonderful discussions in your book about tourism. There's stuff about environmentalism, there's a wonderful chapter about gender equity. For those who are persuaded by the conversation for those who understand the basic point that creativity is part of the value And wealth and now the brand of a nation. What would you say is the next step? conceptually and maybe even in terms of actions? What do people do in order to support this idea that wealth needs to include creative exchange and creative activity? Where do we go from here? Okay, well, since we're here,
we're also talking about economics here. The first thing people should really buy my book.
I'll make sure there's a link on the webpage. It's very understandable. It's not technical at all. So so so
that's the first thing I would say. But also the second thing not just by it, but really. So that's one thing but um, the other thing I will say is that in even in this country, as education is struggling, and I'm very strong, I strongly talk about as education because through arts education, we learn education can change people's perceptions. But if you keep on cutting the Yes, school, a lot of people grew up without really having any sort of kind of meaningful exposure on the US. Okay. And that will mean that they go to Haiti or Uganda. So they may not even appreciate that kind of discussion in terms of looking at at all to be curious of the creativity there. For that's very, very important. I think that's to have. So if I say if you can write your senator, or your college professor, President or some council person, if we are to increase funding for arts education, that will be wonderful. I think that's a concrete step we can do. Yeah, the concrete thing we can do have the internet but interestingly, the internet has created a certain kind of silo, where like, I just talked to people who I know and I just look at the things I want to see without really actually looking at broader things. intraday discussions can come up call is you got a really close to Nigeria. So how far is it, you know? So yet when you go on the internet, you can actually see maps and look at the geography of these countries. So I'm saying this because even in college, I can look, I can't go and Google African music. Okay, traditional music. What can I learn from this? Okay? Who can educate yourself about that? Okay, look, I've heard about the issue of copyright being like, it's not fair for artists, how do I get to understand more about this, you can't actually Google and find information debates about this kind of thing. So then you're educating yourself about this. Then the other thing about this, is that really being a steward in terms of ideas of public policy, in that if you have candidates you're supporting on bigger things. What is your position, you're going to hear a lot of debates Coming up as a US election, I bet good I mean, who knows if we'll get to hear people really actually making meaningful suggestions or making points about why they matter, you're going to hear about science technology. I think science, technology and engineering and math that stem, but the only country about science, technology, engineering, and math, okay? How can we push these kinds of things to be part of the big discussions? Then international affairs are your own, you said about your book, being close your books being translated into passion? And congratulations on that. And I think ideas can bring us together. What can you learn about other countries cultures, not just the popular culture, but traditional culture? What's your history coming up in culture dimension? And how do we connect? How does culture connect us as human beings even if we are so different?
So we have we have the practical agenda. of writing our representatives of listening to our candidates of buying your book. But we also have the, the the more personal agenda or abstracted and of don't just listen to the music, learn about the culture, don't just just download the song, look at the map, try to get a sense of this. And what that will do ultimately is give us a very holistic, very robust view of what wealth means, in the fullest sense of the term. Patrick, thank you so much for joining us on why.
Thank you so much, jack.
You've been listening to Patrick kovanda and jack Russell Weinstein on why philosophical discussions about everyday life. I'll be back with few more thoughts right after this.
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You're back with jack Russell Weinstein on life philosophical discussions about everyday life. We were talking with Patrick kovanda, about the creative Wealth of Nations, we were asking how to measure wealth. That includes creative exchanges, that includes cultural ideas that includes all of the stuff that doesn't get measured in terms of products. We talked about Haiti, and we talked about how we think of it as a poor country and a place that needs assistance. Next time you read about Haiti and some disaster or next time you read about Haiti and hear about their poverty, take some time and look up Haitian art, take some time and examine Haitian crafts look a little bit about the history of Haiti, try to figure out what it is that's positive that Haitians have to offer that isn't being talked about. They're not just recipients. They're also givers. They're not just takers. They're also people who make our world richer and better and ask is that are the things that they make and the things that they create? Is that worth cultivating? One of the things we didn't get a chance to talk about is the fact that in Nigeria, there's a huge film industry called nollywood nigerian, Hollywood, Nigerian, bollywood, and that you can get Nigerian films online there's a Roku channel for Nigerian films. Next time someone is complaining about the Nigerian scam, email, the They get or Boko Haram take a little time and see, what are they doing for films? What kind of filmmakers are there? What can we learn from them that maybe would have made a Steven Spielberg film better? All of this is Patrick's point. It's not just that we're ignoring the creativity, although we may be. It's not just that we're not trying hard to get a full point of view, although we may be. It's that when we describe countries in terms of rich and poor, when we describe countries in terms of developed and undeveloped, when we describe things in terms of the first world and the third world, we're missing the fact that all of this ignores this tremendous creative culture and production, that people travel all around the world for that people go as tourists that people go as students and that we learn from. There is a story in his book about how Michael Jackson ended up stealing a Nigerian musicians song. And that person never got credit for it. We have to give people more credit for the robustness of their cultural product and of their creativity. And we have to count that as the Wealth of Nations, not just in terms of our respect for them, but in the way that we trade with them, partner with them and treat them as equals. You've been listening to jack Russell Weinstein on why philosophical discussions about everyday life Thank you for joining me. As always, it's an honor to be with you.
Why is funded by the Institute for philosophy and public life Prairie Public Broadcasting in the University of North Dakota is College of Arts and Sciences and division of Research and Economic Development. Skip what is our studio engineer the music is written and performed by Mark Weinstein can be found on his album Louis soul. For more of his music, visit jazz flute Weinstein calm or myspace.com slash Mark Weinstein. Philosophy is everywhere you make it and we hope we've inspired you with our discussion today. Remember, as we say at the Institute, there is no ivory tower.