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Is The Era of Big Government Over Or Is It Just beginning?

November 17, 2022, 7:30 PM


Please join us for a lively conversation addressing the pressing question:

Is The Era of Big Government Over, Or Is It Just Beginning?

Over the past three years, Americans have witnessed a profound change in the size and scope of government not seen in decades: public-health mandates, direct cash payments to individuals, growing divisions between “red” and “blue” states, and trillions of dollars in new spending. While not perfect, many look back and see evidence that government works, that it can be made to work better, and that the time has finally come to redefine Americans’ relationship with public authority in a country long skeptical of “big” government. Others have taken the opposite lesson: experts got more wrong than they did right, because they are apt to usually get it wrong; massive spending continues to create moral hazard in the marketplace; big government is a root cause of the country’s deepening political divisions. What does “good government” look like in an era of growing inequality and social division? What lessons should we take from the last few years in redesigning government programs? Can we fix government, or is it doomed to repeat its mistakes?

The fall Cotter Debate will bring to campus two leading thinkers to discuss both sides of this issue, to reflect on Americans changing relationship with government, and to consider what should be done to make it work better. Megan McArdle is a Washington Post columnist who writes regularly on issues related to government policy, finance, and the economy. The author of The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success, she has also written for The Atlantic, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, and Bloomberg View. Donald Moynihan is the McCourt Chair at the McCourt School of Public Policy, where he co-directs the Better Government Lab. His research has informed key policymakers from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to the United Nations, and was cited in both President Obama’s and President Biden's budget proposals.

The debate will be moderated by Nicholas Jacobs, assistant professor of government at Colby.


November 17, 2022
7:30 PM


Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement
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Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building, Colby College
Mayflower Hill Drive
Waterville, ME
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