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Did he say that with a straight face? Once government employees start talking like that, you've got trouble. Let me know how much money you guys make from this.

Hard to believe that government projects sometimes turn into money makers.

Satellites, for instance. The Panama Canal. And there's this funny thing called "the internet" I've heard about. Somebody's making a ton from that. Who started that again? The phone companies? The content providers? IBM maybe? Couldn't have been a government project, could it?

Much of agribusiness owes its fortunes to government starting up land colleges and financing research into breedstocks. The Dust Bowl came about by a set of circumstances including drought, depression, dust storms, and the tragedy of the common as farmers cleared millions of acres of tree breaks and broke millions of acres of sod to plant evermore acreage. The cumulative effects were a disaster, and it was government which, through agencies like the Soil Conservation Service and Farm Security Administration trained farmers in methods to stop such environmental degradation.

Oh, and in the "other projects" that government has shepherded with some success I'd add "radio astronomy", "particle physics", and a bunch of other esoteric scientific endeavors - probably including environmental remediation, given the boost that environmental causes got through governmental involvement in the 1960's and 70's.

Did I mention nuclear power? I'm pretty sure government had something to do with that. The FDIC has been copied around the world, although I don't think we get a royalty, but at least we get a stable banking system. And I'm pretty sure we do OK selling weapons around the globe, too, most developed on the government dime. (We don't seem to be using them particularly well, but that's a different issue.)

Yeah, I'd say there are lots of things "government" does badly. But I think if people looked around they just might find a few things that it has done exceptionally well. That's rather like any great and large company, which has successes and failures, and based on our position in the world today I'd guess that the former has outweighed the latter.
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