Arnold Kling  

Libertarian Ideas for the Mainstream

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James Pethokoukis gets snarky about Obamanomics and then offers constructive suggestions, based largely on two e-books, Race Against the Machine and Launching the Innovation Renaissance.


9. Create a patent system with the length of legal protection depending on the cost of innovation and imitation.
10. Establish more innovation prizes.
11. Have fewer kids in college getting liberal arts degrees, more in business-run worker training programs.
12. More investment in basic research, not in crony-capitalist, industrial policy schemes like Solyndra.

Note that Alex Tabarrok's book also gets a rave review from Steve Landsburg. I read the book on the bus to New York a couple weeks ago, but I think I forgot to review it. Actually, the Bolt Bus is a nice example of innovation. The most remarkable thing about it, to me, is that Amtrak did not get its friends in Washington to make cheap buses illegal.

Libertarians are attacked for fantasizing about libertarian utopias while not offering any practical solutions for poverty or unemployment. Tabarrok's book offers a counter to this. These are ideas that belong in the mainstream. In fact, of the 12 suggestions that Pethokoukis makes, I think 10 of them ought to be acceptable or attractive to people on the left (I assume the left is not ready to reduce taxes on capital or to embrace market-oriented Medicare reform).

If you really want to govern, you propose sensible ideas that do not push ideological hot buttons. Instead, anyone who harps on inequality strikes me as showing a preference for protesting over governing. Meanwhile, libertarians may be moving in the opposite direction.


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COMMENTS (4 to date)
Julien Couvreur writes:

Sounds like more sensible central planning to me, as he accounts for some public choice problems, but no less central planning by government.

Chris Koresko writes:

Sounds like what every one of the current Republican presidential contenders would try to do, with the exception of the elimination of the mortgage tax deduction (they'd get slaughtered if they tried that).

Liberal Roman writes:

"Actually, the Bolt Bus is a nice example of innovation. The most remarkable thing about it, to me, is that Amtrak did not get its friends in Washington to make cheap buses illegal."

They tried. I can't find the link now, but they wanted to basically make the buses illegal at least in NYC. The excuse was they were taking up too much "curbside space". Insane. Ridicilous.

Liberal Roman writes:

Here is a particularly scary link of you are a fan of the cheap bus service:

http://www.dnainfo.com/20110916/midtown/police-launch-crackdown-on-midtown-bus-company-boltbus

"On Friday, as promised, a police van spent the morning parked on West 33rd Street, across the street from where Bolt buses, as well DC2NY coaches and various airport shuttles load. Two officers, who'd printed out a list of all the laws a bus can break, sat inside, keeping an eye on the buses as they pulled up, loaded and departed to Baltimore, MD and Washington, D.C."

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