By Amy Willis
Mike Munger, “the Tom Brady of EconTalk, returned to EconTalk this week to talk with host Russ Roberts about what he deems the most important concept in political economy, permissionless innovation. Should innovators ask permission first or forgiveness later, and under what circumstances? And why aren’t economists generally any good at predicting innovation?
1. While Munger claims permissionless innovation as the most important concept in political economy, he dubs opportunity cost the most important in economics. What do you think is the most important concept in economics, and why?2. Why is rule of law a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for permissionless innovation? What does Munger mean when he says if a law allows something, it encourages it?
3. Munger and Roberts briefly mention the (relatively) recent incident on United Flight 3411. How might permissionless innovation have mitigated the negative effects of this incident? How can companies like United encourage such innovation effectively?
4. What does Munger invoke Schiller’s English dance metaphor (40:33) to explain? (For a helpful example of such a dance, check out this clip from the BBC‘s Pride and Prejudice.) To what extent to do you find this illustration useful? What other metaphors might you suggest?
5. Given Munger’s popularity as an EconTalk guest, what would you most like to hear him discuss with Roberts next?