When I give talks celebrating individual creativity as a driver for development, there is always one or more questioners afterwards who asks nervously, “don’t you see ANY role for government?” The answer is: OF COURSE. Government provides public goods. You could argue that one good that has such large external benefits that it’s at least partly a public good is Education. Public education is a major contributor to American economic development.
These thoughts are prompted by cheering along West Virginia University’s epic victory over U. Kentucky last night in the NCAA basketball tournament. A government sponsored and funded university, West Virginia U played an important role in my family. It educated both my grandparents and my parents (and, wandering off message, they each MET and married there, so I owe WVU thanks for existing at all). WVU allowed a poor fatherless boy a chance to get a Ph.D. in biology and realize the American dream (my father).
So here’s a chance to praise the Government for its role in development, and yes, development’s not ONLY about private individual dynamism.