It’s a tired, tired debate: is government or business most responsible for this or that revolutionary technology? Industrial policy or markets: choose one, please. And thanks to Fortune magazine columnist Alan Sloan, we get to have this misframed argument of false choices yet again. Sloan mocks the idea that Amazon.com boss Jeff Bezos might be a libertarian. Smelling a potential lack of self awareness (at best) or hypocrisy (at worst) by Bezos, Sloan matter-of-factly notes that Amazon “after all, is based on the Internet, which was created during the Cold War by a military research-and-development arm of the federal government, the Advanced Research Projects Agency. No Arpanet, no Internet. No Internet, no Amazon, no $25 billion personal fortune for Jeff Bezos.” Sloan, shorter …. wait for it … “You didn’t build that, Bezos!” But Sloan’s simplistic, daisy-chain analysis doesn’t quite hold up. (My pal John Tamny calls the column a “hit piece.”) Robert Taylor, who ran ARPA in the 1960s before leaving to run Xerox’s famed PARC lab, put it this way: “The origins of the Internet include work both sponsored by the government and Xerox PARC, so you can’t say that the internet was invented by either one alone.” http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/08/you-didnt-build-that-does-amazons-jeff-bezos-really-owe-his-25-billion-fortune-to-uncle-sam/#mbl
James F. Booth
For more than 25 years, James Booth has provided consulting and legal services to telecommunications carriers and to enterprise companies that manage their own telecommunications networks. Since June of 2009 he has also served as General Counsel of Spread Networks, LLC, which is the industry leader in the construction and operation of low latency high speed networks. Before joining Spread he was General Counsel for OnFiber Communications, a competitive telecommunications provider, and was the sole attorney for Qwest Communications International in support of its construction of an 18,800 mile fiber optic network spanning the United States. Earlier he was lead counsel for U S WEST in its wireless and cable television ventures in the United States, Europe and Hong Kong.