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About the Speech

Why is it so hard to implement free markets, or rather, to allow free markets to prosper? Government is growing virtually all over the globe, save undemocratic China. In the U.S., even Republicans are growing government, and a shift toward the Democrats is underway. American voters in general appear to want big government, and they want to make the productive pay for it. But even when individual voters favor the free market, organized special interests in favor of bigger government triumph by standard public choice theory. The increasing ideological liberalism of American elites, which is manifested in virtually every leading institution save the military, is yet another factor furthering big government. The standard responses – go door-to-door to encourage neighbors to vote for free market candidates, make contributions to free market candidates, write editorials, and the like – offer little leverage relative to the scale of the problem. Supporters of free markets are naturally depressed, and it often appears the more intelligent the observer, the greater his pessimism about free markets. But things are not as they appear. Information technology in particular has been and may remain an immense force for decentralization and smaller government. A constellation of technologies – notably in communications, computers, and software – is responsible for this hope. Technology enables good globalization, that is, globalization without “globalism” and the world state. Good globalization makes national states compete against one other, limiting any one government’s ability to turn itself into a centralized, tax-imposing leviathan. However, the factors that make technology a force for decentralization could reverse. In that case, we will get radically more big government. By understanding the contest between technology and government, people who care about freedom can make a difference.