Chapter 14Economic Ideas and Challenges on the Policy Shelf: Business Implications

Economists who are in the profession because they want to influence policy makers, with some exceptions, typically have to wait some time for their ideas to be taken seriously, if at all, and perhaps even longer to be implemented. A prime example, discussed in Chapter 11, is the idea of auctioning off licenses to the electromagnetic spectrum, floated by Ronald Coase in 1959, but not put into effect until 1993. Coase, who lived to the age of 102, was lucky enough to be alive to see his idea become a reality. Most economists don’t get that pleasure, either because the time was never right while they were alive for a crisis or action-forcing event that could bring their ideas to policy makers’ attention, or because the ideas were impractical or even wrongheaded.

It is thus a bit hazardous for anyone to project which of the many possible economic policy ideas already out there on the proverbial policy shelf will be implemented by legislators, regulators, or possibly judges. Nonetheless, I believe three sound ideas long in the public domain have a reasonable chance of being adopted in some version at some point. I’m not going to predict when this might happen, like I didn’t do with the direct business ideas outlined in Chapter 13. But any one or all of the ideas discussed in this chapter could be adopted in the context of a successful effort addressing the long-term federal deficit, whenever that happens ...

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