Launching The Innovation Renaissance is a new Kindle Single, in which Alex Tabarrok points to the fundamental importance of innovation in improving our lives and creating economic opportunities and growth. The format, shorter than a traditional book but longer than a magazine article, is appealing and the whole text can be read in a few hours.
I agree whole-heartedly with Steven Landsburg’s review of the book. A key passage:
Those of us who write about economics know that the search for perfect real-world examples can be excruciating. Readers crave them, but most of the time a given example ends up illustrating a point that’s close to, but not exactly, what the writer is trying to get at — and so ends up muddying the waters. Tabarrok’s got an amazing knack for finding exactly the right examples, so that we’re simultaneously enthralled by his storytelling and clued in to exactly what he wants us to understand.
His recommended policies — patent reform, prize funds, better education through better teachers, trade schools instead of colleges for many students, liberalized immigration policies for skilled workers, globalization — are all backed by formidable intellectual consensus. Among people who know what they’re talking about, almost none of this stuff is controversial. For the public at large, this book will explain why.
A comment on patent reform: One of Tabarrok’s points is that as markets become more integrated and global, and as poor countries are growing richer, the time needed to recover the costs of development shrinks, and thus patents ought to be shortened. It is a good point, but it is not obvious that policy will move in that direction. Regulatory capture is a problem, and as markets grow, the incentives for rent-seeking in this area grow with them.
I hope the book is widely read. You do not need a Kindle to enjoy it.