An amusing moment from yesterday’s speech in Iowa on the economy, in which Mitt Romney explains the difference between R&D in the public and private sectors.  All you really need to know is the history of technological innovation in the 30 or so years since the breakup of the AT&T monopoly, but Romney’s parable is both less exhausting and more entertaining.  See if this evokes Get Smart for you, too:

Jim Pethokoukis supplies a little more of the speech than the clip shows, including a killer line at the end:

During my time in business and in state government, I came to see the economy as having three big players – the private sector, the states and localities and the federal government.

Of these three, the private sector is by far the most efficient and cost effective. That’s because scores of businesses and thousands of entrepreneurs are competing every day to find a way to deliver a product or a service that is better than anyone else’s. Think about smart phones. Blackberry got things going. Then Apple introduced the iPhone. Now the Android platform leads the market. In the world of free enterprise, competition brings us better and better products at lower and lower cost. Innovate and change or you go out of business. And the customer — us — benefits. …

Imagine if the federal government was the sole legal supplier of cell phones. First, they’d still be under review, with hearings in Congress. When finally approved, the contract to make them would go to an Obama donor. They’d be the size of a shoe, with a collapsible solar panel. And campaign donors would be competing to become the all-powerful app czar.

My point is this: As President Obama and old-school liberals absorb more and more of our economy into government, they make what we do more expensive, less efficient and less useful. They make America less competitive. They make government more expensive.

What President Obama is doing is not bold; it’s old.

Don’t forget that the federal government is in the cellphone distribution business — and its results underscore Romney’s argument.