Production requires energy. Some people think that it should be good that a government could define the GDP by a decree; however, GDP is the result of the “natural” evolution of the economy. Economy is the process of producing and interchanging goods and services. Governments are a very important part of this process, because they act as regulators, they can drive the economic system to a better or worse working point, but the system evolves following its own rules. Regulation tries to reduce the number of possible states of the system in order that the system can evolve in a more stable way.
Ancient societies get the energy needed for production from the direct effort of men and later from the effort of animals. Science and technology have provide a way to get energy that requires less human effort, and let to obtain a lot of goods impossible to get in a pre-technological world. The technological world is, then, much more complex. In this sense, we can have a huge functionality at our disposal, but the capability of the governments to control completely the society through legal laws is very far from that of the tribal chief.
Today the control of the society is not only the control of people; it is more related to the control of the economic drivers: financial assets, energy sources, technology, and information diffusion.
This is the reason why the influence of economists and technologists in our societies has been increased hugely in these days. Current governmental affairs are more similar to an internal affairs department (the police of the police) than to the police itself.
The paradigm of societies has changed. Then the paradigm of the governments is changing although they do it much more slowly than in the private sector due to the great inertia produced by their huge size.
The financial world can have substituted the role of main driver of a society that previously was in the hands of the governments; however, as the complexity of the societies increases, other factors can dispute the role of main driver. Although financial world continues been the blood that provides oxygen to the cells of the social body, technology has acquired a more preponderant role as a control mechanism than in the previous centuries, because production depends more on technology instead of on people than in the previous centuries. As the capability to provide more efficient way to produce of the technology increases, the power of finances is reduced.
On the other hand there is a change due to the information technologies at the value provided by communication. Press was the way as politicians could drive the society to their desired status in the previous centuries, however, today IT technology has shown to be an extremely good way to improve the economy of any country due to its capability to link sources of knowledge, goods, services to their demand in a practically instant time. The information that it is moved at the clouds of corporations, in bank transactions, or in professional social networks is providing a higher effect on the society than the news we get from the main newspapers.
The pros are diverse but the cons too. We pay the potential benefits in terms of complexity. The greater the expected benefit, the higher the complexity; and the higher the complexity, the lower the manageability. We cannot forget the governments because we continue needing a police of the police. Someone must control the controller. In engineering this is well-known as supervising control, as we know that our controllers cannot fit well unexpected situations, we need someone who can change in a not linear way the working point of the system.
The old paradigm of left and right political parties trying to increase the number or public servants to control the society for their own interests should be overcome, governments must act as supervisor control of complexity in order to avoid crisis, or at last, governments will fit better the role of a copilot of a car in a rally for the financial and technological drivers (the good ones making him to run faster and the bad ones putting him out of the road) than the role of a captain of a ship putting it at the good course.
The Aristotelian vision of the virtue of a government in the middle point is not so dead as some people could think.