This book debunks the myth of the State as a large bureaucratic organization that can at best facilitate the creative innovation which happens in the dynamic private sector. It argues that in the history of modern capitalism the State has not only fixed market failures but also shaped and created markets, actively investing in new technologies and sectors that private investors only later find the courage to move into.
A profoundly important book. Your iPhone – and most other high tech stuff – is based off state-sponsored research. For every Venture Capitalist saying “the free market made this possible” there is an army of publicly funded developers. Sometimes, in the case of GPS, a literal army!
It makes a compelling case for the funding of basic and experimental research and development. We need long-term planning, rather than short-term profit chasing.
My only criticisms of this book are based on me not reading many academic books. I don’t understand how a reference that just says “Smith (1904)” is helpful to anyone. It is also repetitive – I suspect because it is a collection of related essays, rather than a unified book. I also wonder whether it is normal for an author to continually cite their own work.
Either way, it clearly presents a well-researched argument and exhaustively demonstrates its veracity.