We think it indisputable that the future of our country and of the planet depends on ideas old and new. Who owns and controls ideas has always mattered and now matters more than ever especially in the area of science. It seems to us that Congress has not devoted as much careful thought to the issue as the public interest requires, preferring to extend ownership rights at the behest of large contributors to thinking through what is in the public interest. We also think the Bush administration has not respected scientific ideas, preferring to politicize science and the public understanding of science.
We hope President-elect Obama will consider adding Stanford law professor Larry Lessig to his, President-elect Obama’s, kitchen cabinet there being no official cabinet position we can think of that hits this particular nail on the head. We think Lessig knows as much or more about the importance of ideas and about the law relating to ideas as any person in the country. More importantly, Lessig, like President-elect Obama, has the remarkable gifts of being able to speak and to write clearly, to educate, to fascinate and to inspire. Lessig is also a realist not an ideologue. He’s learned from hard experience. It seems to us he could contribute immeasurably to the government’s and to the public’s understanding of and respect for the importance of ideas and for how to best use ideas in the public interest, on behalf of a planet in peril.
Lessig is also a public educator working to change Congress. He understands the importance of ideas in the context of electoral politics and is working for change.
We hope President-elect Obama will invite Lessig to be one of his advisors.