Post details: Sen. McCain, Meet the Patent System

Sen. McCain, Meet the Patent System

Posted by Andrew on June 24th, 2008

We've known for months now that John McCain doesn't know how to use a computer, so it should come as no surprise that he talks about innovation policy as if it's an entirely new concept. We want a more efficient hybrid car battery, so let's pull a number out of the air -- $1 per U.S. citizen sounds good -- and award it as a prize to the person who invents one:

“I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people,” Mr. McCain said, “by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.”

He said the winner should deliver power at 30 percent of current costs. “That’s one dollar, one dollar, for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency,” he said.

And shame on Sen. Barbara Boxer for calling this a "gimmick." It's not like the federal government provides any form of ex post incentive for technological innovation already, does it?

The National Review loves the idea, of course. Conservatives just love it when government gets into the business of picking winners and losers in the competition for innovation. (Then again, maybe not.)

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