23 July 2012

Republicans, Public Goods, and Sheer Idiocy

The Los Angeles Times has run two interesting pieces lately. The first is this essay "So, who really did invent the Internet?" - which sketches the fact that not only did it take government funding and research - not just in the U.S. but in those dratted "European Style Social Democracies" - to 'invent' the Internet, but government officials to open it to private commercial development. The punchline:
So the bottom line is that the Internet as we know it was indeed born as a government project. . . . Private enterprise had no interest in something so visionary and complex, with questionable commercial opportunities. Indeed, the private corporation that then owned monopoly control over America's communications network, AT&T, fought tooth and nail against [its predecessor] the ARPANet. Luckily for us, a far-sighted government agency prevailed.

It's true that the Internet took off after it was privatized in 1995. But to be privatized, first you have to be government-owned. It's another testament to people often demeaned as "government bureaucrats" that they saw that the moment had come to set their child free.
No one beside libertarian ideologues and Republican politicians like Romney should find this observation troubling. But they surely should have the good sense not to embarrass themselves when Obama utters truisms about the social-political-economic infrastructure on which "job creators" and "entrepreneurs" build businesses.

The second interesting essay is this one, suggesting that Romney actually understands what I just said. He apparently finds it no insult whatsoever to elite athletes when he suggested that they had oodles of help accomplishing their great, if various, feats. Why then, does Mitt consider it an insult to entrepreneurs when Obama suggests that they do not build businesses whole cloth? Can't the Republicans come up with a candidate who is less dim than this? Come on! I am not even an Obama supporter. This, though, is ridiculous.

Update: And it gets ridiculous-er and ridiculous-er by the minute - look here.

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