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Neil deGrass Tyson and Avis Lang reference the Center on Capitalism and Society in New Book

September 18, 2018

"[In February of 2009,] an international group of distinguished economists, officials, and academics met under the auspices of Columbia University’s Center on Capitalism and Society to discuss how the world might manage to emerge from its worse-than-usual financial crisis. The center’s director, Nobel laureate in economics Edmund Phelps, argued that some financial re-regulation was called for but stressed that it must not “discourag[e] funding for investment in innovation in the non-financial business sector, which has been the main source of dynamism in the U.S. economy.” What’s the non-financial business sector? Military spending, medical equipment, aerospace, computers, Hollywood films, music, and more military spending. For Phelps, dynamism and innovation went hand in hand with capitalism—and with war. Asked by a BBC interviewer for a “big thought” on the crisis and whether it constituted “a permanent indictment of capitalism,” he responded, “My big thought is, we desperately need capitalism in order to create interesting work to be done, for ordinary people—unless maybe we can go to war against Mars or something as an alternative.” 

From "Accessory to War" by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang.  Read the full article with this excerpt here.

The conference referenced is the Center's 6th Annal Conference: Emerging from the Financial Crisis held at Columbia University; participants included George Soros, Christine Lagarde, Jeffrey Sachs, Joseph Stiglitz, Lucas Papademos, William McDonough, and Josef Ackermann.