Confession: I disproportionately read and link to Andrew Sullivan and David Brooks. So be it. Let’s move on.
… there’s a straightforward way to revive innovation. In an unfairly neglected white paper on the subject, President Obama’s National Economic Council argued that the U.S. should not be in the industrial policy business. Governments that try to pick winners “too often end up wasting resources and stifling rather than promoting innovation.” But there are several things the government can do to improve the economic ecology. If you begin with that framework, you can quickly come up with a bipartisan innovation agenda.
The bold-face sentence is my emphasis. It’s a remarkably conservative instinct, don’t you think? Of course, that philosophy doesn’t square with all of the actions taken by the current administration, but neither did the choices made by Reagan’s administration always square with its guiding philosophies. Imperfection happens.
Brooks goes on to offer nine suggestions for an “innovation agenda.” Several of those suggestions are already points of agreement between Democrats and Republicans, according to the columnist. He concludes:
This sort of agenda doesn’t rely on politicians who think they can predict the next new thing. Nor does it mean merely letting the market go its own way. (The market seems to have a preference for useless financial instruments and insane compensation packages.)
Instead, it’s an agenda that would steer and spark innovation without controlling it, which is what government has done since the days of Alexander Hamilton. It’s the sort of thing the country does periodically, each time we need to recover from one of our binges of national stupidity.
I highly recommend a complete read of the column.