March 24, 2013

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Medical Breakthroughs And Smart Policy.

The world is in the early stages of a golden age of biotech innovation, one that has the potential to revolutionize everything from health care and manufacturing to energy production. And the biotech revolution will build on and add to the infotech revolution that has been shaking the world for the last 50 years. The 21st century will be more different from the 20th than the 20th was from the 19th. And the 22nd century will be something else again, if we don’t kill ourselves en route.

VM never gets tired of pointing this out for one very simple reason: wonks who don’t keep the innovative dynamism of our age at the forefront of their minds as they think up new policies are likely to do more harm than good. Trying to build elaborate models for the future of healthcare based on today’s delivery systems and economic models is as futile as trying to build a national transportation model in 1830 based on the success of the Erie Canal.

The tsunami of technological change headed our way means that we need to do less to build durable, rigid systems. We need to increase our social flexibility and our ability to change as new opportunities open up. That generally means more reliance on market forces and price signals, flexible regulatory regimes and open ended planning models. We need to avoid locking existing institutions and interests into rigid systems we must work harder to prevent vested interests from doubling down on the status quo.

Unfortunately, as I was warning years ago, ObamaCare does precisely the opposite, and that will cost lives.