Book Review: Entrepreneurial Economics: Bright Ideas from the Dismal Science, edited by Alexander Tabarrok
This collection of papers has a bunch of very good ideas.
The patent buyouts chapter shows how most patents could be put into the public domain (fixing some problems associated with monopoly) while also increasing the incentives for innovation (at least in areas such as drugs where the patent system works moderately well). Two minor weaknesses in the paper: it ought to explain why this is a better use of money than funding research directly (I expect this could be done by analyzing the incentives and track record of small startup drug companies versus nonprofit/government researchers). The joint randomization for substitutes works well if there’s unlimited money to buy patents, but if a patentholder can make joint patents too expensive to buy by falsely claiming that its patent is a substitute, then it’s hard to analyze whether problems result (although I’m fairly sure they could be dealt with).
The chapter on decision markets (aka idea futures) provides some hints on how many of the problems with democracy could be fixed. Hopefully this will encourage readers to seek out his more thorough argument.
The time-consistent health insurance proposal describes a good free-market alternative solution to many of the problems that government-run insurance proposals claim to address.
The chapter on gene insurance would address additional problems with people born with genes that scare insurers, but only if it were possible to require buying this insurance prior before an infants genes get tested for defects. But it’s unclear how such a requirement can be enforced – it seems possible that a mother will often be able to get a fetus tested secretly before the government realizes it’s time for the child to get insured.
The section on organ shortages provides some interesting arguments that the medical establishment profits from the shortage of organs created by laws against the sale of organs.
The chapter on securities regulation is too longwinded but contains good evidence that competition between securities regulators will help investors.
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