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    'the official finding of a report commissioned by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon'..., 2005-03-10 11:12:27 | Main | article 1 section 8 clause 4..., 2005-03-11 11:56:13

    the track has rails on land claimed by the state:

    Kevin Drum flags examples of the 'free market' at work, but not being one to complain about the appropriation of publically financed development into privately controlled coffers, the anti-democratic process through which such development takes place, or the negative impacts on the general welfare that result, he doesn't suggest you read the pertinent literature or reviews of the historical roots of Whatever You Want to Call It [1]. Instead merely note that collective efforts, voluntary or otherwise, can produce Some Good Things. We could be building robots to do something useful, instead we're building robots to kill people more efficiently, out of which something useful may eventually arise - superior blenders probably, maybe a better washing machine. It's all so round-about.

    The article alleges that "patent law changes that allowed universities to capitalize on discoveries made in their labs" have contributed to development, without making the argument. The obvious example of such change being the 1984 Bayh-Dole Act [2], which allowed NIH funded projects to be patented/monopolized by private sector firms, the argument pro being that this would hasten implementation by industry. There's a case to be made for that specific outcome, in terms of immediate gains, but one argument against it can be found in decreasing returns on the policy noted in said article.

    It was also the basis for a massive fire-sale of public intellectual property and prior research, a very real variation on cargo-cult science [3], cargo cult practice, probable impacts on the education of university students, and the redirection of research priorities towards quick profits and away from basic research - which, in the end, I think is probably the major problem in the diagnosed injuries to America's technological 'edge'. It created disincentives to do basic research and technology that helps people who can't pay enough to make it profitable: something like half the human population, or the whole of any given ecological sphere that does not engage in financial transactions but is instead patented itself. The technological shortfall can be ascribed in part to the corporatization of public investment in research, which hasn't been reduced so much as misappropriated.

    Were there no limits on word count in the Washington Monthly: "Louisiana Purchase ... was a jobs program for landless citizens eager to carve their own farms in the wilderness" might make mention of carving the indigenous population out of the wilderness, "Republicans have tended towards a laissez-faire approach" might note their preference for the Pentagon to pick the 'winners and losers', etc., but who are we to nitpick when the problem is more or less correctly described within the set of defined boundary values.

    1. via carson, noting the same shortfall in Thomas Frank.
    2. The "second important reform" in this article sounds familiar, but nowhere on the Internets can I find anything very useful on the (circa 1903) Littlefield Bill that "would have required all corporations engaged in internet state commerce to file annual financial reports with the Interstate Commerce Commission. Its major provision barred from interstate commerce any corporation which used discriminatory rates or sought to destroy competition", GK, The Triumph of Conservativism pp. 71.
    3. blogging is a matter up to me and my rabbi.


:: posted by buermann @ 2005-03-10 22:09:34 CST | link





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