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Uber's superior service threatens London's black-cab drivers, just as (my namesake) John Kay's flying shuttle eventually led to rebellion by out-of-work Luddites in the 19th century. The losers from such innovations should in some circumstances be compensated. But restricting competition is against the public interest.
Two recent events have served to highlight the range of difficult questions raised by pharmaceuticals regulation. Last week, a man died in the French city of Rennes after a clinical trial of a painkiller went tragically wrong. In New York last month, the company controlled by former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, raised the price of the life-saving drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 a tablet to $750.
A mechanism of funding pharmaceutical research which leads to drug prices far in excess of marginal cost is bound to lead to anguish and injustice. But is there a better idea?
Children love to play with new toys but hate disruption to their routines. These traits persist in adult life: innovation is readily adopted when it is incorporated in new gadgets but innovation that involves doing things differently is resisted. There are understandable reasons for this.
Just as dammed water finds new channels of escape, crowdfunding seems to provide a way around the blockage.
Knowledge is more than additive. What we learn when we bring two bodies of knowledge together may be much more than the sum of each alone.
Humans have always found it hard to cope with the idea that every individual has a lifespan even as life itself goes on. The idea of a natural life cycle for a business, or industrial centre, is even more difficult to accept.
Why do we devote more resources to training carrier pigeons and building fibreoptic links than to understanding military and business strategy?
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