I had a discussion yesterday afternoon with a friend on where we saw capitalism going. The answer was neither of us saw it going very far at all. maybe we’re getting older, and maybe we’re just wrong, but we could not see what it was that capitalism could currently invest in that would create better outcomes for humankind than we could imagine might be available from public use of the same funds.
Everything’s already been invented so we should just close the patent office, eh?
And this at a time when we’re going through the fastest technological revolution ever. The smartphone is indeed the fastest adopted technology ever. From a standing start to a billion pieces a year in under a decade. But this is even better:
Martin Wolf ….. But most of all he says, by implication, that in the future we must tax rents, and of all these rents he suggests that intellectual property rights might be the one that will require most attention.
This is fascinating, because this is at the forefront of the current battle on international taxation. Google shifts the ‘rent’ it can earn from its (state funded) technology from the states where it should be taxed through Ireland into Bermuda. We all know other technology, pharmaceutical and similar rent earning companies (and most multinational corporations are now of this sort, for varying reasons) do similar things. And they are fighting very hard to defend their right to do so at the OECD, which has already backed off from making changes to tackle tax abuse in the digital economy.
So, the argument appears to be that because Google’s technology was state funded then the state should have some of that cash. Very similar to Mazzucato’s argument.
But, erm, it was the US government that funded Google’s technology, if any funding there was. So it should obviously be the US govt that gets to tax that cash: not the governments of Europe which is what Ritchie is arguing for.