I watched live almost all of each morning presentation today. Some highlights:

1. Ben Wildavsky’s point that when talent moves from country to country and back, it’s not a brain drain. He had another good expression that I forgot to write down but the idea was that it’s a “brain circulation.” (That might have been his expression.) He also pointed out (not that almost anyone in his immediate audience of economists and the economically literate would have doubted this) that we shouldn’t lament the rise of competition in education from other countries. Competition is good.

2. Megan McArdle’s very sobering and informed presentation on the antibiotic crisis. The resistance develops very quickly now and so we’re running out of antibiotics. One thing I didn’t quite get was whether she thinks the FDA’s policy of having a very high hurdle (on safety and efficacy) for new antibiotics to be approved is a good policy. She seemed to take it as given. It seems to me to be cruel. Maybe she handled it and I missed it.

3. Bryan Caplan’s presentation of his book on children. Excellent. I think Bryan comes across as a very lovable man. I loved Tim Kane’s intro: Tiger Mom vs. Dolphin Dad.

4. Bob Cringely’s interesting take on non-Silicon Valley start-ups. Good to see Arnold Kling ask the question that I was dying to ask, about the start-up that Cringely chose to highlight: How positively excited should we be about a start-up that appears to depend on government subsidies for its existence? Cringely answered that it would be a winner without the subsidies. I’d like to see the data.
One question that he didn’t answer well: is it necessarily the case that we have too few start-ups, given that the majority of businesses fail? My gut feel is that the rules are rigged (think of permissions, government approvals, and “progressive” income taxes) against start-ups but I didn’t think Cringely answered the question.