Argument: Govt is leading agent of change/progress/adaptation

Issue Report: Big government


Jeff Madrick. “The case for big government.” October 22, 2009: “As economies grow larger, societies more populous, scientific and social knowledge deeper, and interconnections more complex, government grows as well—at least in societies that succeed. And when government works as it should, it is also typically the leading agent of change. As economies progress, societies learn more, and expectations rise, government’s main purpose is to manage, foster, and adapt to this change. It is a profound task.

Our own government has a history of managing and adapting, often radically, to change, looking ahead, not backward. It did so in the face of influential forces, fearing the future and aiming to protect established interests, which invariably opposed new obligations for government: financing the canals in the 1820s; building free primary schools starting in the 1830s and high schools in the late 1800s; developing government-built sanitation and water systems in the early 1900s that made the cities possible; creating a central bank to mitigate the disruption of boom-and-bust cycles and regulate unstable financial markets; enforcing labor rights such as hours worked, job safety, and a minimum wage; implementing vaccination programs and health research.”