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Government vs. Private Industry Round 4026

April 30, 2009

Via Mark Hemmingway at NRO. Here’s Ethan Zuckerman with a practical analysis of the still unanimous decision for private industry development over government…

In other words, the relatively lame device my friendly enumerator was carrying, which cost $600 million, doesn’t actually work well enough to use for its intended purpose, is still being used in the field, perhaps so that it can be readied for 2020? Anyone believe that we’ll be able to do better than a half-pound, paperback-book sized plastic brick within ten years?

How better to put it?

Here’s my general opinion on any gov-designed vs. money-grubbing project.  When you have to make money, it can’t suck.  When you’re using someone else’s money to pay for something, then it can suck all it wants.  Thus, private industry has an incentive to produce product that people would want, or they won’t sell it, and they won’t get paid.

Is this hard?

Updated 5/1: Here’s some more thinking by Doctor Zero over in the Green Room.  It’s a very thorough analysis that comes to a similar conclusion as mine, though with a few more words.

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