The US Economy and the State of Innovation
About a year ago I finished my book The Decline and Fall of the American Entrepreneur: How Little Known Laws and Regulations are Killing Innovation. The book argues that the US economy was faltering long before the financial crises because changes to our laws were inhibiting investment in technological advances. Intellectual, financial, and human capital are the three foundations necessary to develop new inventions and all three have been undermined since 2000. In this post I will review how the policies affecting these foundations have changed in the last year.
Intellectual Capital: patents mainly represent this prong. The good news is that David Kappos replaced the incompetent and traitorous Jon Dudas. Kappos is a patent attorney and therefore also has a technical background. Unfortunately, he spent his whole career working for large companies and does not understand the challenges of individual inventors and technology start-up companies. The bad news is that Supreme Court again illustrated their utter incompetence in the Bilski decision. None of the Justices understand the difference between the utility requirement under 35 USC 101, the novelty requirement 35 USC 102 and the obviousness requirement 35 USC 103. The justices demonstrated that they do not understand the need for a working embodiment (35 USC 112) in order to even evaluate 101 and 102 issues. They presented nonsense hypothetical’s in oral argument that were not enabled and then demanded to know whether these hypothetical’s meet the utility requirement. They also made absurd statements that patents limit the flow of information. Another low point in the year was the farcical ruling in the ACLU v. Myriad case. The judge ignored the law and wrote 100 pages of nonsense to his cover up his crime.
Despite some progress in this area, overall the US continued to weaken the Intellectual Capital foundation necessary for economic growth, job creation, and investment in inventions.
Financial Capital: Sarbanes Oxley significantly undermined this foundation. The only good news is that the financial reform bill raised the threshold for the application of SOX to $60 million in market capitalization. However, SOX did incredible damage to our economy in only 60 pages. The financial reform bill is 2700 pages and no one knows all the damage it will cause, but it certainly was not a step in the right direction. The major issue financial reform should have addressed was Fannie and Freddie and it did not even address this issue.
There was no progress at all in this area.
Human Capital: this was undermined by the FASB rules requiring the expensing of stock options. Despite the fact that accountants are unable to understand the simple fact that dividing a pie does not reduce the size of the pie, this idiotic policy continues unchallenged.
The US has made no progress in the last year in implementing policies that would encourage technological entrepreneurship. The US is continuing its corny capitalism policies that reward political connections over true economic progress.
The US is also likely to increase the capital gains tax rate from 15% to 20% in 2011. This will further damage the incentive to invest in new technologies. The Obama administration is proving that it is even more incompetent than the Bush administration.
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