Archive for December, 2008

The Right Broadband Stimulus Package

The stimulus package being considered by Congress presents a once in a generation opportunity to upgrade our nation’s broadband infrastructure, but only if the proposals are based on pragmatic logic rather than ideological wishful thinking.

Congress will hopefully include a sizeable investment in broadband infrastructure in the stimulus package expected to pass next month. As ITIF will show in a forthcoming report, spurring investments in broadband and other network infrastructures (like health IT and green grid) can create a significant number of new good jobs. And if the package is designed in the right way, a large share of these jobs can be created in 2009, bringing much needed short-term economic stimulus. Moreover, the advantage of spurring investment in smart networks is that unlike stimulus measures that support consumer spending, these investments will spur productivity growth and other societal benefits, including improved education, better health care, and reduced greenhouse gases.

But if broadband is to be a sizeable component of the stimulus, it is critical that the measures are ones that get the most broadband built or most people added to the network in the quickest way. Unfortunately, some broadband … Read the rest

Amar Bhidé’s Book on Venturesome Consumption Gets It Half Right

This October, Columbia Business School Professor Amar Bhidé published a new book called The Venturesome Economy: How Innovation Sustains Prosperity in a More Connected World. Bhidé’s core thesis is that technologies developed overseas (even if they mean a loss of domestic jobs) can enhance American prosperity. This argument is based on his view that there is a general misunderstanding of how innovation contributes to economic growth, specifically that too much attention is paid to upstream development of new technologies by scientists and engineers and too little to the commercialization of innovations into products and the willingness of “venturesome consumers” to adopt cutting-edge products and services whose economic risks and benefits are difficult to judge. Bhidé believes that worries about the off-shoring of technological research and design are misguided because it’s actually consumer’s willingness to use products derived from scientific research that is “far more important” than generating new technology stateside.

We certainly agree with Bhidé that venturesome consumption and productivity on the user side, including the widespread use of information technology, is of crucial importance to innovation competitiveness and economic growth. Spurring demand and adopting more innovative technology, at individual, organizational, and governmental levels, is … Read the rest