Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Yesterday I attended a luncheon with Tony hosted by Floyd Kvamme, partner emeritus at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Co-Chair of President Bush's Council of Advisors in Science and Technology. The purpose was to present some of the leading scholars at the American Enterprise Institute, a leading conservative think tank, and to generate discussion around their area of expertise.

It was cool because Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, presented some of his ideas from a new book he had just written called In Our Hands ("reveals the ineffectiveness of government redistribution plans and offers a radical new approach to social policy"). Two other scholars were also present, Kevin Hassert, AEI's Director of Economic Policy Studies, and Reuel Marc Gerecht, their expert on Middle East affairs.

It was gathering of about 20 people with the President of AEI, Christopher DeMuth, and their three scholars as guests.

For me, Kevin Hassert's research on corporate tax policy and intellectual property issues for the U.S. were the most fascinating where I will definitely follow up on reading his papers and others on these topics. One point he made was how the U.S. was sacrificing hundreds of billions of dollars to keep a handful of industries, such as steel and textiles, afloat at the gain of a very unequal sum. I believe the figure he stated was over $600 billion is lost abroad on copied U.S. IP, such as movie DVDs and software. The problem is when the U.S. goes to China and asks them to deal with our piracy problems they respond with, "Well, why don't you open up your markets and eliminate those favors to the steel and textile industries?" With this the U.S. backs down probably because of misinformation and old school lobbying ties these industries have. Hassert said the loss of the steel and textile industries are a very small fraction of the revenues lost abroad from our copied IP.

Tony often states the Republican Party is a party of ideas and that generating new ideas are their strength. This AEI event was a reflection of that reality for me. The meeting yesterday just took be back a year to conversations I had with my friends who were active in the Democratic Party. They knew that they lacked the knowledge infrastructure especially when they compared the number of conservative think tanks to the number of liberal think tanks. One response was the founding of the Center for American Progress by John Podesta, President Clinton's former Chief of Staff, a couple years ago. My good friend, Debbie, worked their until recently. Other efforts were started or funded by people like George Soros to get started. It will be interesting to see how the Left in America builds out their intellectual network and thought leadership practices over the next several years.

Anyway, the luncheon was great and listening to the scholars' ideas and research made me miss the political arena a bit. The environment of researching and discussing various policy solutions and trying to come up with the most effective yet practical ideas is an enjoyable exercise for me.

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