… is from pages 94-95 of the May 9th, 2020, draft of the important monograph – forthcoming this month jointly from the Adam Smith Institute and AIER – by Deirdre McCloskey and Alberto Mingardi The Myth of the Entrepreneurial State (footnote deleted):
During the last century, government spending at all levels rose as a percentage of GDP in virtually all countries. With such an enormous growth it is of course highly unlikely that no public spending at all would end up in the neighborhood of innovation-producing projects, along with a large number of economic idiocies…. When, out of its massively expanded spoils from coerced taxation and regulation, the State directs funds by scattershot to research establishments, and incidentally to favored voters, it will crowd out, we say, some private research. But it is bound from time to time to hit a sweet spot, by accident. The accident does not mean the government had expert knowledge of where the sweet spot was located, or that scatter shooting was even approximately the best way to fund useful knowledge.