Why the government should not be the Big Innovator

A few weeks ago I got published with an article I wrote about the role governments can and cannot play in stimulating innovation. I responded to a piece that Rutger Bregman posted for the De Correspondent about the biggest inventor and innovator in the world: the government. He claims that governments are responsible for all major technological breakthroughs in the past 100 years and that they are the ultimate venture capitalists. The government should take a stronger role as a technological innovator at the expense of the free market.

Dangerous nonsense. Continue reading

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Why the Rest of the World Gains from U.S. Inequalities

Innovation is deemed crucial to sustained economic growth and welfare improvement. One may subsequently pose, as I do, that innovations require some sort of inequality before they can blossom. This does not mean that some people need to be kept poor so that others can innovate; it means that those individuals who have the potential to significantly improve things for society should be enabled (or left free) to act on that potential.

One of my favourite writers (and speakers), Milton Friedmanexplains that experimentation, which is closely related to innovation, can bring tomorrow’s laggards above today’s mean. I’ve drawn the picture below to illustrate what he means (or at least how I understood he meant it):

Bringing tomorrow's laggards above today's mean

Bringing tomorrow’s laggards above today’s mean

Thus, if we accept that today some inequities exist, which means that some are poorer than others, tomorrow the poorest (the “laggards”, on the left end of the graph) may be better off than the average today. The crucial insight is that inequalities are relative. Even though some may be better off relatively, everyone is better off absolutely.

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Implementing Venture Capital Policies in Europe Requires more than a Casual Look at Silicon Valley

Much of the literature on venture capital (VC) policies is inspired by the success of a handful highly visible companies such as Microsoft, Compaq, Intel, Google, and Apple. These companies, nowadays, are huge and extremely powerful, but at some point in their development they had to resort to VC. These companies are, of course, the envy of many countries – who wouldn’t want to have such firms flourishing in his or her country?

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