The people who take Economics 101b--the go-faster do-more version of intermediate macroeconomics--are among the best students in the country: smart, eager to work, very well-prepared. So it has always seemed to me that I should do more to help them sink their teeth into some of the big growth-policy issues of intellectual property and antitrust.
To that end, yesterday I engaged in some structured procrastination to see if I could get them into the issues, starting by having them read Robert Barro's claim that by starting and growing Microsoft Bill Gates has already done twenty times as much good for his fellow humans as he will do by giving away his wealth:
Robert Barro (2007a), “Bill Gates’s Charitable Vistas,” Wall Street Journal (June 19) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118222027751440041.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries
And then doing some model-building:
J. Bradford DeLong (2007), "INCOMPLETE DRAFT: Notes on Antitrust Policy and Optimal Innovation in a Model of Productive Variety" http://delong.typepad.com/pdf/20070709_varieties_antitrust.pdf
Still to do:
- Add Jones-Williams idea of "innovation clusters" to produce the stepping-on-toes effect...
- Add the potential for the public provision of ideas--and perhaps try to model government failure in R&D...
- Wave hands and talk about private intellectual property and its potential blockage of the shoulders-of-giants effect...