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August 23, 2007

Web Assignment 8: Government Failures

James Scott's Seeing Like a State is, I think, both the most interesting and also the most intellectually honest book on this semester's reading list. Scott is by instinct and orientation left of center, a believer in collective purposes and destinies, in collective action, in moral solidarity, and in the limitations of the market as a mode of social organization. But he looks at the world, and thinks hard about it, and in the end comes up with a position on the role of governments that Milton Friedman would not find much to disagree with.

What do you think of Scott's litany of government's inversions of the role of Mephistopheles--that it is an organization that always seeks to do good, and winds up always doing evil?

Write a comment of at least 200 words on Scott's argument. Contribute to the discussion that is ongoing--that is, react and respond to not just James Scott but, to the extent it is appropriate, the earlier posters and commenters on the webpage.

Due by 5 PM on October 23


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