Again With Why Mariana Mazzucato Is Wrong

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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.

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Spike
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Spike

Government doesn’t invent everything, and the more the Precautionary Principle gets insinuated, it may be that no one else does either.

But you’re right, there’s invention, then working the inventions, integrating the inventions, getting housings made for them. Then test-marketing, trials, feedback, getting capital to go nationwide and worldwide, selling out to a mega-corporation, and cost-reducing. Every step valorous brain-work requiring understanding your values and deciding which choices further them and which don’t. (PS – Government cannot know how much of each phase we need, any more than it can know what price is right.)

John B
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John B

‘ It’s entirely true that many of the constituent parts were originally devised using grants and state funding. ’

Actually not. Most stuff was originally, devised in 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries without any State funding, electricity, electromagnetism, electronic valves, conductivity, cathode ray tubes, phone, for example, plus much of the underlying theory in physics and chemistry, Improvements may have been made later with taxpayer money, but not the invention.

Pcar
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Pcar

@John B

+1

Tim falling for the Moonshot Fallacy again

More often than not, Gov’t is against change, innovation and invention

We’d probably still be using Strowger exchanges if GPO ran telecoms

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

There’s no arguing with the improved service since the GPO’s monopoly was broken – months to get a new line installed or even an existing line reactivated after a house move. But their research centre at Dollis Hill and then Martlesham gave us the first electronic computer (Tommy Flowers) and then ADSL (and probably lots of other stuff, too). You can argue that this would have happened equally (or even faster) under private enterprise, but there’s no denying it happened.

Andrew Carey
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Andrew Carey

Who could forget this incredible quote from a member of the UK’s HoL:
3. In 2003, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development published a paper on the “sources of economic growth in OECD countries” between 1971 and 1998 and found, to its surprise, that whereas privately funded research and development stimulated economic growth, publicly funded research had no economic impact whatsoever. None. This earthshaking result has never been challenged or debunked. It is so inconvenient to the argument that science needs public funding that it is ignored.

Pcar
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Pcar

@Andrew Carey

Spot on. Excellent reference – link?