Americans think of ourselves as entrepreneurs, innovators, and self-starters. That description fits plenty of American businessmen, but in the world we inhabit many technological advances that fuel mega-sized companies started in government programs. John Judis makes this point concisely in a recent article in TNR :

“Steve Jobs, who has nearly been beatified in his role as independent businessman, excelled at designing products based on government-funded inventions. Some of Apple’s most vaunted achievements—the mouse, a graphical user interface, the touch-screen, even Siri—were all developed in part with federal finances. Or take Google. Its search engine came out of a $4.5 million digital-libraries research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). You can also look at the pharmaceutical industry. According to a Congressional Budget Office study, 16 of the 21 ‘most influential drugs’ introduced between 1965 and 1992 depended on federally funded research. The list goes on. Federal money helped support the invention of lasers, transistors, semiconductors, microwave ovens, communication satellites, cellular technology, and the Internet.”