To fully appreciate the need for an “Opportunity State" you must first understand “New Growth Theory”, also known as “Endogenous Growth Theory” (i.e. growth from within an organism… in the case the economy.) Way back in 2001 Reason Magazine did an interview of Paul Romer, the key architect and cheerleader of NGT. At the time, the libertarian mag described Romber as “The Post-Scarcity Prophet.” Here’s a snip of their interview:
reason: In terms of real per capita income, Americans today are seven times richer than they were in 1900. How did that happen?
Consider some of the technological changes in our lives since this interview: blogs, Ebay, Twitter, Facebook, Ipads, tablets, apps, texting, Groupon, Google, Amazon.com, etc, etc. These are just a few of the platforms that have changed our lives, created billions in new wealth, and in each instance created new commercial tools and opportunities for millions.
The premise behind New Growth Theory is that technological innovations are virtually limitless with the proper support. Another snip:
reason: What do you see as the necessary preconditions for technological progress and economic growth?
I’ll doubtless return to this great article many times in the coming months, but let me stop here. In summary, the economic theory that undergirds my notion of the Opportunity State, that is, a state that relentlessly prepares its citizenry with the tools that give them economic opportunity, is New Growth Theory. We can grow our economy exponentially from withn (primarily… outside factors will stay play a role; think energy for example) given the right set of institutions. For me, the notion of an Opportunity State (as opposed to the Welfare State) allows policy makers and theorists to create a framework for policies that will ultimately create the “unique set of institutions” that Romer believes are necessary.