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Smart State

Smart State

The world will need smart government more than ever in 2016. The state is becoming bigger, thanks in large part to the emergency measures taken to avert economic collapse. But the resources to support the Leviathan are limited, with tax revenues shrinking and public debt ballooning. This is raising a question with increasing urgency: can governments learn to do more with less? Can they, in other words, become smarter?

Happily, the crisis has given states some of the tools they need to improve their jobs. A big constraint on smart government is the difficulty of getting smart people to work for the public sector. But with so many of the private sector's great hiring machines sputtering, governments have been given a once-in-a-generation chance to hire the best and the brightest.

Technologies like personal computers and smart phones have reshaped every corner of society. Figures like Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak are commonly heralded as the god-like innovators of these planet shifting technologies, but the new documentary The Smart State makes a much different and far less popular argument.

While private industry figureheads like Jobs and Wozniak are to be credited for their keen foresight, aggressive marketing skills and sleekly attractive packaging, the bulk of the advanced technologies they employed in their products resulted from the sweat and ingenuity of the public sector. In the opening moments of the film, a technology expert dissects the innards of a smart phone. The origin of each working part becomes clear through every step of his examination.