Thursday, October 29, 2009

An Economic Agenda for the GOP:

Free Markets, Not Big Business...

Luigi Zingales and the 100mpg Carburator

Luigi Zingales in City Journal [click to read].

In the 1970's, at the height of the gas crisis, there was an urban myth circulating about the 100mpg carburator. It went something like this: Someone had invented an ultra-efficient fuel/air mixer but industry interests had bought the patent, assuring the device would never see the light of day.

The myth persisted with the story that the prototype device had accidently been installed on a production vehicle and was thus discovered. The unknowing purchaser enjoyed passing by the gas station for months on end. When he went back to the dealer for scheduled maintenance they tried to swap it for a regular carburator but the savvy customer caught them and kept the device.

The basis for the myth is the American's inherent trust of large entities, be it big government or big business. Mr. Zingales makes a helpful, and healthy distinction between being "pro-market" and being"pro-business."

In this blog I've chronicled the story of Preston Tucker's innovative automobile and how his company was brought down by established interests. "Pro-business" can sometimes default into the worst kind of protectionism. Mr. Zingales offers a clear thinking approach to this problem that Conservatives would do well to heed.

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