This blog was written after the Newsnight episode broadcast on Friday 7 December 2012 and presented by Emily Maitlis which featured a debate on the size of the state which included author of the Black Swan, Nassim Taleb.
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste”And so before a panel featuring George Taylor (former adviser to Tony Blair), Pippa Malgrem (former economic adviser to George Bush) and Nassim Taleb (author of Black Swan and Antifragile) the Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis asked: if you could start again what way would you design the state, what should be the core and auxiliary functions?
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
“Until August 1914 a sensible law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked… broadly speaking the state only acted to help those who could not help themselves. It left the adult citizen alone.”
- English History 1914-1945
So how has the state gotten to the size it is today? The short answer as given by the BBC’s political correspondent David Grossman: war. The state established a grip over its citizens during the war and has since never let go.