Bryan Caplan  

"Does Technology Drive the Growth of Government?" Bleg

Did U.K. Double Dip Prove that... Conversation with Ben Casnocha...
"Does Technology Drive the Growth of Government?" is one of my favorite Tyler Cowen papers.  It's on my graduate Public Choice syllabus.  Unfortunately, it has strangely disappeared from the Internet - and Tyler himself can't easily locate the paper.  If you have an electronic copy, please email it to me. 

I'll reciprocate by blogging the highlights.

COMMENTS (8 to date)
DK writes:

The PDF is here and it's readable:

Someone who reads Chinese should be able to figure out how to download the file.

david writes:

You can't download it easily, its instructions say you need 'points' to download the file, and you probably need to pay to buy points.

cornflour writes:

The paper is from the 2009 meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, held in Stockholm.

The Instituto Liberdade (Puerto Alegre, Brazil) put copies of the meeting's papers online. Since the Instituto's link to these papers no longer works, and no one seems to have formally published the papers, you should probably contact the Instituto.

Their website is bilingual, so I'd guess they'd understand English. Their contact information is at

Raymond T. Walter writes:

Bryan should have the paper in his inbox now.

James Oswald writes:

I love the internet. I realize that this isn't an obscure paper, but the speed with which things can be found and data losses can be repaired is quite impressive.

Lars P writes:

It's good to know about the Wayback Machine.

If you know the URL it used to be on, and when, they probably have it.

Zac Gochenour writes:

Wayback Machine didn't have it, but the paper has been acquired. Thanks to everyone who looked.

Jeremy H. writes:

I was just rewatching "Free to Choose" last week. Friedman makes a comment which reminded me of this Cowen paper.

Lawrence E. Spivak: Let's go back to Jefferson. You say cut the functions of central government to the basic functions advocated by Jefferson which was what? Defense against foreign enemies, preserve order at home, and mediate our disputes. Now, can we do that in the complicated, the complex world we live in today, without getting into very serious trouble.

Friedman: Suppose we look at the activities of government in the complex world of today. And ask to what extent has the growth of government arisen because of those complexities? And the answer is, very little indeed. What is the area of government that has grown most rapidly? The taking of money from some people and the giving of it to others. The transfer area. HEW, a budget 1_1/2 times as large as a whole defense budget. That's the area where government has grown. Now, in that area, the way in which technology has entered has not been by making certain functions of government necessary, but by making it possible for government to do things they couldn't have done before. Without the modern computers, without modern methods of communication and transportation, it would be utterly impossible to administer the kind of big government we have now. So I would say that the relation between technology and government has been that technology has made possible big government in many areas, but it's not required it.


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