Les inégalités financées par les pouvoirs publics

WASHINGTON, DC – L'un des facteurs à l'origine de la hausse massive des inégalités dans le monde et de la concentration des richesses au sommet de la distribution des revenus est l'interaction entre l'innovation et les marchés mondiaux. Dans les mains d'un bon entrepreneur, une percée technologique peut valoir des milliards de dollars, en raison des protections réglementaires et des marchés mondiaux où le vainqueur rafle toute la mise. Ce que l'on oublie pourtant souvent, c'est le rôle que joue l'argent public dans la création de cette concentration contemporaine de richesses privées.

Comme l'a fait récemment remarquer l'économiste Dani Rodrik, une grande partie des investissements de base dans de nouvelles technologies au Royaume-Uni est financée par des fonds publics. Le financement peut être soit direct, par des institutions comme le Ministère de la Défense ou les National Institutes of Health (NIH), soit indirect via des allégements fiscaux, des pratiques de passation des marchés et des subventions à des laboratoires universitaires ou à des centres de recherche.

Quand un axe de recherche débouche sur une impasse, comme cela se produit inévitablement souvent, le secteur public en assume le coût. Néanmoins, pour ceux qui portent leurs fruits, la situation est souvent très différente. Une fois une nouvelle technologie établie, des entrepreneurs privés, avec l'aide d'investisseurs en capital-risque, adaptent cette nouvelle technologie à la demande du marché mondial, établissent des positions de monopole temporairement ou à long terme et font ainsi de gros bénéfices. Le gouvernement, qui a assumé la charge d'une grande partie de son développement, bénéficie de peu sinon d'aucun retour.

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