Debunking the Narrative of Silicon Valley’s Innovation Myth
Forbes | Bruce Upbin 
“The real innovation engine in the global economy is not the entrepreneurial class blazing capitalist trails through the thicket of government red tape and taxation. No. The real engine of innovation is government.” Sussex University economist Mariana Mazzucato’s “case study for myth-debunking is the iPhone, that icon of American corporate innovation. Each of its core technologies–capacitive sensors, solid-state memory, the click wheel, GPS, internet, cellular communications, Siri, microchips, touchscreen—came from research efforts and funding support of the U.S. government and military. Did the public see an iPhone dividend? Not really.””

The High Return on Investment for Publicly Funded Research
Center for American Progress | Sean Pool and Jennifer Erickson
In order for the U.S. to maintain its role as an innovation-driven economy, “government must provide three key public-good inputs that allow innovation to blossom: investments in human capital, infrastructure, and research.” The authors cite and summarize the contributions of influential research funded by the U.S. Government through the Dept. of Energy Labs, The National Science Foundation, The Human Genome Project, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Apollo Space Program.

Markets, States, and the Green Transition
The American Prospect | Fred Block 
“… [U]nder-appreciated state involvement is true of many new technologies and sectors, but it emphatically describes the necessary transition to renewable energy. Private entrepreneurs contemplating investment in green energy face a chicken-and-egg problem. Technologies either do not yet exist, or they do not exist at a competitive price … Unless government intervenes on the supply side—to promote the innovation that is too risky for private entrepreneurs—and on the demand side—to accelerate creation of mass markets for green sources of energy—private industry cannot get the job done.”

Innovation: let the good risk-takers get their reward
The Guardian | Mariana Mazzucato and William Lazonick 
Mazzucato and Lazonick write that, “the advanced economies of the west are in deep trouble. Growth is slow or non-existent, income distribution is highly unequal … [and] the crucial question is how to reform policy so that the relationship between risk and reward is one that supports long-run growth rather than undermining it.” They point out that taxpayers are the real venture capitalists; taxpayers fund the riskiest investments in the “knowledge economy,” but it is shareholders who receive recognition and profit for reputedly bearing the risk.

The Seeds That Federal Money Can Plant
The New York Times | Steve Lohr
“Government support plays a vital role in incubating new ideas that are harvested by the private sector, sometimes many years later, creating companies and jobs.” The author cites a report from the National Research Council that finds nearly $500 billion a year of revenue at “30 well-known corporations … [can] be traced back to the seed research backed by government agencies.”

Why Steve Jobs Might Have Failed at Government Innovation
Governing | Ron Littlefield
“[One] of the biggest differences in the private and public sectors when it comes to innovation is this: While failure followed by a surprising climb to success is the subject of legend in private enterprise, government leaders are typically not given such latitude … [they] must dream big and then act boldly with the clear knowledge and understanding that failure is not without repercussions … Public servants stake their livelihoods on outcomes, and must be prepared to live with the consequences if the outcome is less than expected … [W]e should ask ourselves the question: Would Jobs or others who failed at their initial goals have been given the chance to succeed and be innovative if that initial failure had occurred in government?”

Imagine spending a day without the Internet and GPS
Continuing Innovation in Information Technology | National Research Council
The internet and GPS (a U.S.-owned utility) are among many innovations that have been funded by the U.S. Government.  The authors of Continuing Innovation in Information Technology write, “fundamental research in IT, conducted in industry and universities, has led to the introduction of entirely new producer categories that ultimately became billion-dollar industries.” Underscoring the impact of government’s outsized role in creating the dominant technologies of the 21st century, the authors of this report ask readers to imagine a day without information technology. “This would be a day without the Internet and all that it enables … A day without digital media … A day during which aircraft could not fly, travelers had to navigate without benefit of the Global Positioning System (GPS), weather forecasters had no models, [and] banks and merchants could not transfer funds electronically…”

Jaques Reifman and the APPRAISE Team | U.S Army Medical Research and Material Command
Service to America Medals
“Developed an artificial intelligence system for medics to quickly detect if severely injured patients in transit are hemorrhaging, improving survival rates by preparing trauma centers to act immediately upon the patient’s arrival.”

Background: Automatic Detection of Internal Bleeding in Air Ambulances | Medgadget

ALEC calls for penalties on ‘freerider’ homeowners in assault on clean energy
The Guardian | December 4, 2013
“An alliance of corporations and conservative activists is mobilising to penalise homeowners who install their own solar panels – casting them as “freeriders” – in a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy…[T]he American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)…promote[s] legislation with goals ranging from penalising individual homeowners and weakening state clean energy regulations, to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency, which is Barack Obama’s main channel for climate action…In November [2013], Arizona became the first state to charge customers for installing solar panels.”

Supporters want to know why solar tax credit extension was vetoed
The NM Political Report | April 15, 2015
“In April 2015, New Mexico New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez vetoed an extension of the Solar Market Development Tax Credit, set to expire in 2016. “The tax credit provides up to ten percent of the cost of solar photovoltaic or solar thermal systems for residential and small business customers.” The reason for her veto was not made public but she had also “vetoed House Bill 296, which would have extended the solar market development tax credit for residential and small businesses to leased systems.”

Solar blowback hits Reid’s Nevada
Politico | December 22, 2015
“In December 2015, Nevada “dealt a lethal blow…to rooftop solar power – the latest skirmish of a nationwide green energy battle…” The Nevada Public Utilities Commission, “responding to a law signed last spring by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, voted to slash the payments that Buffett-owned NV Energy must pay to homeowners whose rooftop solar panels feed electricity into the grid…NV Energy can also charge rooftop solar owners a fee for allowing them to sell power to the grid.”

Nevada’s Solar Bait-and-Switch
The New York Times | February 1, 2016
“The Nevada Public Utilities commission, “justified its decision by citing grid construction and maintenance costs that rooftop solar users haven’t been charged for, but circumstantial evidence suggests that other factors played a role…Numerous studies suggest that rooftop solar’s impact on the grid is at best beneficial, at worst slightly negative — in either case, not a justification for substantially raising solar users’ rates … All three commission members were appointed or reappointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, whose two election campaigns have received a total of $20,000, the maximum allowed donation under Nevada law, from NV Energy, the Berkshire Hathaway-owned utility that is a major beneficiary of the rate changes.”

The Quiet Revolution and a Submerged Para-state
Public Goods Post 
Under normal circumstance, it would be safe to assume that “public goods” are delivered by public agencies.  But current circumstances are far from normal.  Over the last several decades, more and more public goods have been delivered by a para-state, a privatized government virtually hidden from view. We taxpayers still pay, but our money goes to a growing army of corporations on the public payroll.

Private corporations operate programs, deliver services and even manage other contractors. Some citizens receiving public services encounter only private contract workers, so are unaware that they are receiving a government service. While some forms of contract procurement have been in place since the nation’s birth, the very nature of contracting has changed as it has grown in scope. Basic governmental functions are now outsourced to for-profit corporations. Read more…

Broadband for All?
Public Goods Post 
In December 2017 the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality rules which had ensured that the Internet belonged to the public and not to internet providers. While the regulatory news is bad, there is a way that people can take back the Internet. In a Guest Post, Donald Cohen tells us how local communities are moving to make Internet access a public good – providing accessible broadband for all. Read more …