Well, the money to buy that many–by taking $500 million of Google’s money for running ads that helped American consumers evade the FDA’s protectionist restrictions on their freedom to buy Canadian pharmaceuticals. That amoung of money could have been used to purchase about 1760 patents, at $284,000 each, approximately the price Google paid recently in the Motorola Mobility acquisition (or about 23 patents, depending on how you figure it — see Google pays $22 million per patent to defend itself).
I’m inclined to view the FDA’s limits on drug freedom as another type of intellectual property right, even though FDA regulations are not usually classified this way. But then, neither are reputation rights (defamation and libel), even though reputation rights are types of IP too, along with patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, and miscellaneous special-purpose (read: special-interest) legislation like boat-hull designs and semiconductor maskwork rights. Like patent and copyright, FDA regulations drive up costs; restrict innovation; limit property rights; hamper free trade, competition, and emulation on the market; and set up oligolized cartels immunized from competition.
Viewed this way, the state’s stealing $500 million from Google based on FDA regulations is just additional injury done to Google in the name of IP or IP-like state regulations–other injury includes the billions Google is now spending on patents to defend itself, plus the current patent attacks on the Android platform by its competitors. Compared to those other costs, half a billion is chump change. Sure, it could be used to do real innovation, to hire thousands of people, or given to shareholders to use as they see fit–but it’s obvious the state doesn’t give a damn about consumers or citizens except to keep them stupid and compliant and paying taxes to keep the ruling class in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed (as Lew Rockwell put it in a recent interview).