I was invited to contribute to a British booklet called Small State, Big Society. Feeling contrarian, I refused to describe the U.S. as a small state. Instead, I wrote,

The United States has a surprisingly large welfare state. The American tradition includes a strong element of pragmatism and a distrust for government. Government programs tend to emerge as add-ons to civil society, rather than following a grand plan. Our welfare state is best understood as an emergent phenomenon, rather than as the product of coherent design. Its advantages and disadvantages reflect his haphazard emergence.

My thinking was heavily influenced by Christopher Howard’s The Welfare State Nobody Knows.