As we all recall, Mariana Mazzucato wants us all to know that government invents everything and thus should get a slice of the cash from everything that’s invented. As we all should know she’s wrong about this. For government doesn’t invent everything. It does some things, sure, and it funds quite a lot of basic research too.
One comment there being well, we give 35% of everything to government each year, nice of them to produce the occasional useful thing as a result. Or even, one of the reason we pay taxes is to gain access to those public goods that can’t – or will be less than efficiently – be provided by the private sector or individual action. So, we get some public goods from government, excellent, they’re providing us with what we’ve paid our taxes for. A further cut of the cash isn’t justified, is it?
That would be like giving a CEO a bonus just because he ran the company. Tsk.
The real argument though is that it’s not invention which is the thing that makes us richer:
Which brings us to Steve Jobs and the iPhone. There was no new technology in the iPhone, or at least there wasn’t in 2007. It’s entirely true that many of the constituent parts were originally devised using grants and state funding. There wasn’t really any invention there. What there was, was the integration of extant things into a new whole to do a new thing – that’s innovation.
It actually is worth noting that no government did innovate an iPhone and none have innovated any advances since then either.
None of us would say that applying artificial intelligence, molecular modelling and some serious computing time to drug design is exactly a new invention. It is what’s likely to cure our varied diseases as we age into them over the coming decades. It’s the application of things that matters, the innovation, not the invention.
Quite so, and it’s righteously the innovators who get the cash too.