Thierer Joining Mercatus Center’s Technology Policy Program

by on November 15, 2010 · 4 comments

I’m very pleased to announce that I am today joining the Mercatus Center at George Mason University as a Senior Research Fellow.  I will be working in the Mercatus Center’s Technology Policy Program and covering many of the same issues I have been active on for many years now, including: free speech and child safety issues; privacy and advertising policy; communications and media law; Internet governance; online taxation and e-commerce regulation; and much more.

I’m particularly excited about joining Mercatus since it reunites me with my old Cato colleague Jerry Brito, who also blogs with me here at the TLF, of course.  Jerry is also a senior research fellow at Mercatus and he has done a stellar job developing the Technology Policy Program at the Center.  I very much look forward to working closely with him, my old friend Jerry Ellig, and the many other skilled intellectuals working in various programs throughout Mercatus.  It’s an amazing group of scholars Mercatus has assembled and I know I have much to learn from all of them.

For those not familiar with the Mercatus Center, it was founded in 1985 and has become the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas.  As its website notes, Mercatus is a university-based research center that aims to bridge the gap between academic ideas and real world problems:

Mercatus works to advance knowledge about how markets work to improve our lives by training graduate students, conducting research, and applying sound economics to offer solutions to society’s most pressing problems. Our mission is to generate knowledge and understanding of how institutions affect the freedom to prosper and find creative solutions to overcome barriers that prevent individuals from living free, prosperous, and peaceful lives.

Mercatus is led by a Faculty Director, appointed by the Provost of George Mason University, and the brilliant Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at GMU, currently serves in that role.  I’ve discussed some of Tyler’s work here before and can’t tell you how excited I am to working with him.  If you’re not already a regular reader of his wonderful blog, add it to your RSS feed right now.  Must read.

As a contributor to the Technology Policy Program at Mercatus, what I hope to accomplish with my colleagues is to develop a world-class university program covering the Internet policy / cyberlaw landscape from a market-oriented perspective and help push the Mercatus vision out to a broader audience.  Currently, most university cyberlaw, Internet policy, digital economics, and journalism programs are dominated by voices and perspectives that reject market-based insights or solutions.  In particular, there’s widespread ignorance out there regarding the lessons that the Austrian school of economics and public choice scholars have to teach.  Finally, as I noted in my recent essay on “Two Schools of Internet Pessimism,” there’s a general undercurrent of gloominess, even hyper-pessimism, that haunts this field today.  Despite the fact that almost all signs point to the human condition being improved by digital technology and high-tech innovation, many scholars and policy activists seem determined to weave a very different, and quite defeatist, narrative about life in the Information Age.

Working with my Mercatus colleagues, I hope to start reversing that tide and make the case for a very different way of looking at the world.  I’m really looking forward to beginning this new challenge.

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