The National Debt and Patent/Copyright Monopolies

The US Patent and Trademark Office. Credit: Kazuhisa Otsubo.

October 18, 2021

Yeah, I know it’s getting boring that I keep repeating this, but when there are many trillions of dollars at stake, it seems worth killing a few electrons. Any serious discussion of the burden of the debt must also talk about the trillions of dollars of patent and copyright rents that the government is committing the country to when it grants these monopolies.

The government grants these monopolies as a way of paying for innovation and creative work. It is an alternative to direct spending. That is an arguable point. Anyone who only wants to consider the debt burden created by government spending, but not the burden of the higher prices that we will pay for items like drugs, medical equipment, and software because of these monopolies, is either a sleazy hack or too ignorant of economics to be discussing these issues.

Here’s a slightly longer diatribe making the case.


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