In my nearly six decades of life there have been many amazing changes but few have been more mind boggling and wrong than the shift in the 1980's to the idea that all Government intervention in economic matters were bad and that the free market was able to solve all problems with little or no regulation and guidance.
This myth was was put forth from the most unlikely of sources, a washed up B actor that was Governor of California (we know know that California has a tendency of electing unqualified people to that position, e.g. Brown, Schwarzenegger) and a quirky, incomprehensible Ayn Rand groupie, Alan Greenspan. They told us that individual people were better than groups of people, although Church and American History had taught us the exact opposite.
It was an attractive proposition, that was at the core of the blind evil to come, resulting in the situation of an unqualified, unregistered plumber who never has made $50k in one year becoming the symbol for the fight against even a small tax increase for the rich.
My own experiences in the work place also went against this idea, working for NASA in the 70's it was clear that the amazing accomplishments of that organization could never have been reached in private industry, just now nearly 40 years later companies are approaching that industry with private funds.
How could it be that we were being told that government inhibited innovation when almost every key development that drove out economy for the next 40 years came from this large government funded work program that would have had no chance of being implemented today without people screaming about Socialism and Marxism?
The reason of course is that it was a big lie, a Jim Jones kind of lie with this Kool Aid being forced down our throats with the celebrations of Rock Star CEO's and hyperbolic radio personalities.
As for innovation, let us look at the record, government funding gave us computer technology, material sciences advances like Teflon, communications technology to enable the Internet and sensor technology for advanced medical equipment. All of these have created millions of jobs in the private sectors.
Free Market innovation has given us Sub Prime mortgages, Hedge Funds, CDO's, HMO's, and the most painful economic failures since the great depression.
People compare Barack Obama to Jack Kennedy and I hope the comparison holds true, a person brave and smart enough to know that as a people together we can be great again, maybe through an energy initiative that is funded by the government, releasing the innovations to the market for it to do what it is really good at, developing and executing business plans around formed ideas.
Here is the big surprise to those who understand risk, the more diversified and shared it is the better the outcome, and that is a role for government, my hopes are with Obama to end the long mistake made by the fallacy of innovative markets and get back to what has always worked, WWI, WWII and NASA are all examples of innovative high risk endevours that spawned great technologies for our markets to do what they do best, execute.