The COMPETES Act: A top-down, pork-laden monstrosity
We’ve written before about the COMPETES Act, a massive corporate welfare/industrial policy scheme that a bipartisan gaggle of members of Congress are all too eager to pass before the mid-term elections.
But the corporate welfare and industrial policy are just the highlights of what’s wrong about this monster. As Tech Liberation’s Adam Thierer writes, “the COMPETES Act is one of the most ambitious and expensive central planning efforts in American history.”
And yes, that is a very bad thing, in no small part because it runs full in the face of what made America a tech giant in the first place:
Corporatism, cronyism, and profligate pork-barrel spending were not the sources of America’s competitive advantage in digital technology, and top-down planning did not make our digital technology companies global powerhouses. Instead, we got our innovation culture right for digital technology. First and foremost, our the default regulatory policy for the digital economy was permissionless innovation. No one had to ask anyone for the right to develop all those new digital technologies and online platforms. The Clinton Administration’s 1997 “Framework for Global Electronic Commerce” announced that “governments should encourage industry self-regulation and private sector leadership where possible” and “avoid undue restrictions on electronic commerce.” Second, investors saw that positive policy ecosystem developing and moved quickly to shower entrepreneurs in this sector with unprecedented private venture capital investment. Third, education and career opportunities in these sectors expanded accordingly. Real-time “learning by doing” took place as millions of people learned new digital skillsets on the fly. Kids learned how to code before anyone could even teach them how to type. Most importantly, talented immigrants and foreign investors then came here to take advantage of all this, allowing America to steal away the best and brightest from the rest of the world.
This constitutes one of the greatest capitalist success stories in human history, and it all happened without targeted, technocratic, top-down industrial policy planning.
There’s a lot more at the link. It’s worth reading to understand just how bad this bill is…and how much harm it will do to our economy, our competitiveness, and our liberty.