25 new runways would eliminate most air travel delays in America. Why can’t we build them? 50 patent owners are blocking a major drug maker from creating a cancer cure. Why won’t they get out of the way? 90% of our broadcast spectrum sits idle while American cell phone service lags far behind Japan’s and Korea’s. Why are we wasting our airwaves? 98% of African American–owned farms have been sold off over the last century. Why can’t we stop the loss? All these problems are really the same problem—one whose solution would jump-start innovation, release trillions in productivity, and help revive our slumping economy.
Every so often an idea comes along that transforms our understanding of how the world works. Michael Heller has discovered a market dynamic that no one knew existed. Usually, private ownership creates wealth, but too much ownership has the opposite effect—it creates gridlock. When too many people own pieces of one thing, whether a physical or intellectual resource, cooperation breaks down, wealth disappears, and everybody loses. Heller’s paradox is at the center of The Gridlock Economy. Today’s leading edge of innovation—in high tech, biomedicine, music, film, real estate—requires the assembly of separately owned resources. But gridlock is blocking economic growth all along the wealth creation frontier.
A thousand scholars have applied and verified Heller’s paradox. Now he takes readers on a lively tour of gridlock battlegrounds. Heller zips from medieval robber barons to modern-day broadcast spectrum squatters; from Mississippi courts selling African-American family farms to troubling New York City land confiscations; and from Chesapeake Bay oyster pirates to today’s gene patent and music mash-up outlaws. Each tale offers insights into how to spot gridlock in operation and how we can overcome it.
The Gridlock Economy is a startling, accessible biography of an idea. Nothing is inevitable about gridlock. It results from choices we make about how to control the resources we value most. We can unlock the grid; this book shows us where to start.
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About the Author
Michael Heller is one of America’s leading authorities on ownership. He is the Lawrence A. Wien Professor of Real Estate Law at Columbia Law School and has served as the school’s Vice Dean for Intellectual Life. He lives in New York and Los Angeles.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Go get The Gridlock Economy by Michael Heller and read it. It's not about love or Christian discipleship, but it is about public policy and justice. This should be required reading - for all of us. Before he was named professor of real estate law at Columbia Law School, Michel Heller developed, with (name) the 'Law of the Anticommons.' His insightful book gives multiple examples of how the underuse of critical information and resources blocks advances that would benefit all of us. Pharmaceuticals have cures that aren't coming to market. Why? We underutilize the available bandwidth so that your calls get dropped. Why? It took five years to get a vitamin A- rich grain of rice to market that would have prevented the deaths of between 6.2 and 1.2 million children in 3rd world countries. Why? The Gridlock Economy should be widely read, recommended to your congressional representatives, and become the focus of the internet's power to bring to ignite passion for change to break the gridlock. It's well-written. It's important. Read it. The only reason for the 4 star rating instead of five is the technical nature of the book. Parts of it are fairly technical.
Michael Heller has provided an informative, thought-provoking contribution to the discussion of property rights. Using real-life examples, he demonstrates the disaster that happens when too many people own small portions of a resource. Like squabbling siblings who inherit the family home, one holdout can prevent anyone from using or selling it. No one benefits. That¿s gridlock. Similarly, overuse or neglect often spoil unregulated, unprotected public resources: Licensing requirements prevent companies from developing new drugs because all the potential components are separately patented. Overzealous trademarking and copyrighting undermine the traditions of fair use, blocking artists¿ creativity. Heller¿s book is surprisingly entertaining for a work on intellectual property, real-estate law and economics. After you read it, you will never think about resources and ownership in quite the same way again. getAbstract recommends it to lawyers, artists, economists, research and development professionals, and anyone who¿s been wondering why you rarely see the characters in a screen play singing the happy-birthday song when they blow out the candles. (Answer: It¿s under copyright until 2030.)