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    Science, Patents, and the Government

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    1. When answering keep in mind; Externalities, Public Goods, Imperfect Information, and Social Choice.

    "Government involvement in general scientific research has been justified on the grounds that advances in knowledge are public goods - once produced, information can be shared at virtually no cost. A new production technology in an industry could be make available to all firms, reducing costs of production, driving down price. and benefiting the public. The patent system, however, allows private producers of "new knowledge" to exclude others from enjoying the benefits of that knowledge. Inventors would have little incentive to produce new knowledge if there were no possibility of profiting from their inventions. If one company holds exclusive rights to an advanced production process, it produces at lower cost but can use the exclusion to acquire monopoly power and hold price up."

    In 150-200 words, please help answer the questions below.

    a. On balance, is the patent system a good or a bad thing? Explain in detail.

    b. Is government involvement in scientific research a good idea? Discuss.

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    https://brainmass.com/economics/economic-growth/science-patents-and-the-government-193861

    Solution Preview

    This problem could be answered in many different ways. You will need to decide for yourself whether the patent system is worthwhile. The statement you are given seems rather unbalanced (against the patent system) so I will provide an alternative view. It does seem to me that it has some serious flaws, anyway. Its main argument is that the government could finance all inventions, and that any discoveries would be shared among all companies. It seems assumed that inventors would be equally motivated under such a system; apparently they would be paid some sort of salary, although this isn't clearly stated. But even so, salaries aren't appealing to everyone. In fact, very creative and driven people, those most likely to think of innovative ways of doing things, would not like the idea of a regular paycheck as much as a "windfall" from their discovery. So, firstly, such a system would stifle ...

    Solution Summary

    Discussion of the patent system and government involvement in scientific research.

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