Does Government Need to Fund R&D?

An interesting query on the role of government in research and new technologies from The insight is relevant both for topics like bio-fuel research and stem-cell research, but for highway and infrastructure development, and even “economic development” projects and sports stadiums.

After discussing the role of government in railroads, highways, the electric grid, the Internet, microchips, bio-sciences, Ian Murray concludes:

All in all, these examples actually show that government functions best by facilitation – creating the right legal and political environment for innovation and deployment of new technologies. Sometimes it tries to make us safer through defense expenditure and ends up making us richer. Sometimes it interferes and delays or perverts the most efficient development of the technological asset. None of these cases suggest that massive government funding of energy R&D is essential. They do, however, show that government can very much help by getting out of the way.