Original source: SimoleonSense.com .
Here’s Thaler’s latest missive via NYT.
Introduction (Via NYT)
HERE’S a list of national domestic priorities, in no particular order: Stimulate the economy, improve health care, offer fast Internet connections to all of our schools, foster development of advanced technology. Oh, and let’s not forget, we’d better do something about the budget deficit.
Now, suppose that there were a way to deal effectively with all of those things at once, without hurting anyone. And suppose that it would make everyone’s smartphone work better, too. (I’ll explain that benefit shortly.)
I know that this sounds like the second coming of voodoo economics, but bear with me. This proposal involves no magical thinking, just good common sense: By simply reallocating the way we use the radio spectrum now devoted to over-the-air television broadcasting, we can create a bonanza for the government, stimulate the economy and advance all of the other goals listed above. Really.
Key Insights (Via NYT)
The reason for this golden opportunity may be in your purse or pocket: that smartphone to which you could well be addicted. The iPhone, the BlackBerry and competing devices are already amazing technologies. But precisely because of the nifty features they offer, like the ability to text photos, stream video and provide GPS directions, the radio spectrum is looking as crowded as Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Demand for spectrum is growing rapidly — a trend that will surely continue.
The problem is that the usable radio spectrum is limited and used inefficiently. Think of it as a 100-lane highway with various lanes set aside for particular uses, including AM and FM radio, TV and wireless computer technology. The government — specifically, the Federal Communications Commission — is in charge of deciding which devices use which lanes.
Because we can’t create additional spectrum, we must make better use of the existing space. And the target that looks most promising in this regard is the spectrum used for over-the-air television broadcasts.
Summary (via NYT)
I KNOW that this proposal sounds too good to be true, but I think the opportunity is real. And unlike some gimmicks from state and local governments, like selling off proceeds from the state lottery to a private company, this doesn’t solve current problems simply by borrowing from future generations. Instead, by allowing scarce resources to be devoted to more productive uses, we can create real value for the economy.
Economists are fond of saying that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Here we have an idea that is even better than a free lunch: being paid to eat lunch. More paid-lunch ideas will be coming in future columns.
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