Maybe we are all thinking too much like Bolsheviks and not enough like Googlers. For Lenin and the Russian revolutionaries, the big question was “Kto kogo?” — essentially, “Who has the upper hand?”
Kto kogo remains the paradigm at the center of the fiscal battles roiling the Western world: young vs. old; rich taxpayers vs. poor welfare beneficiaries; public sector workers vs. private sector ones; wealthy Northern Europe vs. bankrupt Southern Europe; small government conservatives vs. big government liberals.
But a few people — writers, activists, even politicians — are examining the current woes of the Western state through a very different prism. You could call it the Government 2.0 approach, and its fundamental thesis is that the biggest question is not how much to spend and how much to tax, it is how to adapt the state to the information age.
One of the first thinkers to articulate this view was the best-selling author Don Tapscott. Tapscott, who has been arguing for decades that the knowledge economy requires a new style of government, thinks the time for his idea may have finally come.
“If you look at the current crisis, we have the irresistible force for reducing the cost of government meeting up with the immovable rock of public expectation that government should be better, not worse,” Tapscott told me. “Tinkering with this will not work. When you are talking about cutting trillions of dollars, that’s not trimming fat, that is tearing out organs, and we don’t need to do that, and we don’t want to do that.”