Tag Archives: Government investment

Gubmint nevah could do nuffin’ right

Except invent the internet. And computers. And other stuff. And then give the technology to American businesses to launch entirely new industries. Damn gubmint!

From wikipedia, here’s how it came to be:

ENIAC (play /ˈɛni.æk/; Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer)[1][2] was the first general-purpose electronic computer.  . .  ENIAC was designed to calculate artillery firing tables for the United States Army‘s Ballistic Research Laboratory.[4][5]  When ENIAC was announced in 1946 it was heralded in the press as a “Giant Brain”. It boasted speeds one thousand times faster than electro-mechanical machines, a leap in computing power that no single machine has since matched. This mathematical power, coupled with general-purpose programmability, excited scientists and industrialists. The inventors promoted the spread of these new ideas by teaching a series of lectures on computer architecture.

The ENIAC’s design and construction was financed by the United States Army during World War II. The construction contract was signed on June 5, 1943, and work on the computer began in secret by the University of Pennsylvania‘s Moore School of Electrical Engineering starting the following month under the code name “Project PX”. The completed machine was announced to the public the evening of February 14, 1946[6] and formally dedicated the next day[7] at the University of Pennsylvania, having cost almost $500,000 (nearly $6 million in 2010, adjusted for inflation).[8]

Like so much Research & Development, it was financed with taxpayer dollars. We used to think that was a good way to spend money.

Henry Ford made cars but he didn’t build any roads.

We suffer legions of fellow citizens who hate government and are certain that all innovation and growth comes from the almighty private sector, driven by individualists and innovators.

I copy/pasted this some months back and failed to copy the link. It speaks to this point better than anything I’ve ever read. And I don’t know who said it. So my apologies the author and my thanks for the fine words.

Decades of relentless Republican hate-mongering against the government has done its job.

Never mind that it was government that pulled off the greatest feat of social engineering in history. In 1900, only 4% of Americans graduated from high school. By 2000, more than 80% did. It was this mass educated public that made possible the most technically sophisticated economy in the history of the world.

It was government that won both World War I and World War II, leaving the U.S. economy astride the world like a colossus, able to harvest the fruits for decades. It was the government GI Bill program that educated a generation of young people to ultimately defeat the Soviet Union.

It was the government that wired every house in the country for electricity during the Great Depression, setting up the largest household consumer-goods market in the world in the 1950s: home appliances. And it was government guarantees for home loans that set off the greatest building boom in the history of the world: suburbia.

It was government that paved more than 3 million miles of road between 1930 and 1960, making possible the massive economic boom associated with automobiles, mass mobility, and more. It was government research that invented the graphical user interface (I remember when we called it ‘gooey’) and the Internet.

Of course, none of that matters.