I haven't yet had a chance to read Alex Tabarrok's new e-book, Launching the Innovation Revolution, but judging from this Atlantic precis of it as well as a number of blog posts I'm wondering if we can goad him into a debate with Tyler Cowen. The debate could be had either at MR or some other forum (Bloggingheads?), and could be conducted along the following lines:
The sort of infrastructure investment that Tabarrok wishes to see -- e.g. nationwide wi-fi, more/better airports, a smarter electricity grid -- are intended to harness human capital in an effort to spur innovation. Cowen argues that the innovations we see right now, particularly in the area of information technology, may improve the human condition but do not boost material resources. Given that, it is unwise to invest more of our stagnating resource base on infrastructure investments that will not replenish it.If Cowen agreed with something close to this proposition he could affirm it and Tabarrok could adopt the opposing side. Cowen has argued that he expects innovation to resume in the future; perhaps as part of the discussion he could more clearly articulate what policies he would adopt to hasten that day.
I'm less interested in the areas where the two agree, e.g. over a massive revision of the regulatory code. I'm more interested in where they do not agree, which seems to include their macro views of the economy and the relative likelihoods of different possible futures.