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Basic research

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Kelvin Silva Posted: Sun, Dec 2 2012 4:48 PM

how does the free market fund basic research?

What is the incentive?

“Since people are concerned that ‘X’ will not be provided, ‘X’ will naturally be provided by those who are concerned by its absence."
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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Dec 2 2012 6:16 PM

Payoff from what is created.

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Define basic research.

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Kelvin Silva:

how does the free market fund basic research?

What is the incentive?

 

The profit motive.

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Elric replied on Mon, Dec 3 2012 8:43 PM

Some wealthy people would also fund research to cure their own ills. Like Steve Jobs for cancer, Junior Seau for brain injuries, Christopher Reeve for spinal injuries...

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AJ replied on Mon, Dec 3 2012 9:17 PM
The Myth of Science as a Public Good. Classic video.
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Nielsio replied on Mon, Dec 3 2012 11:42 PM

The Production Of Science. This Week in Liberty, Episode 3.

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See http://libertarianpapers.org/articles/2012/lp-4-2-5.pdf for a review of the main book on the topic.

I found an interesting quote:

 

While private companies can discover what kind of research they need 
to do in order to improve their products, governments do not know what 
type of research should take priority

Could you, then, treat scientific improvement as a capital good? And just as government cannot ration capital efficiently, it is not able to ration scientific improvements (ie, money to fund science).

Government cannot know in which direction to push science, so it must rely on popular opinion or corporate lobbyists (or just be completely random).

P.S. Could lobbyists actually serve a semi-important function in a mixed economy in regard to science? After all, they bring in an element of the price system into government - the companies bid for stolen money. Eh, I'm not a fan.

 

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Dec 4 2012 10:25 AM

Wheylous, I think the way to interpret that passage is this: Governments don't know what type of research is or would be most urgently demanded by consumers, what type of research is or would be next most urgently demanded by consumers, and so on. And since governments get their revenues by (aggressive) coercion (either directly or indirectly), they have no incentive to align their research investments with consumer preferences. On the contrary, they have a strong incentive to align their research investments with their own preferences, namely to improve their methods of coercion.

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Bogart replied on Tue, Dec 4 2012 6:15 PM

The same way it funds everything else?  Some entrepreneur executes a plan to supply basic research to anyone who wants to pay for it.

The older I get the more convinced I am that the basic research funded by force through the direction several thousand bureaucrats in Washington DC and the state capitals is nothing but a boondoggle.  And unfortunately, like student loans, the college flimflam and other government research institutions like DOD, NASA, NSF, NIH, etc these are a bunch GIANT bubble that have blown up in these areas and at some point are going to pop. 

The issue with force funded research is the that this creates giant "Islands of Chaos" in the economy where the output of this work more often than not goes into a journal or some other book into a library OR WORSE becomes the intellectual property of some corporation or the government thus becoming lost effort to humanity at large.

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