If you wanted to bestow the grandiose title of “most successful organization in modern history,” you would struggle to find a more obviously worthy nominee than the federal government of the United States.
In its earliest stirrings, it established a lasting and influential democracy. Since then, it has helped defeat totalitarianism (more than once), established the world’s currency of choice, sent men to the moon, built the Internet, nurtured the world’s largest economy, financed medical research that saved millions of lives and welcomed eager immigrants from around the world.
Of course, most Americans don’t think of their government as particularly successful. Only 19 percent say they trust the government to do the right thing most of the time, according to Gallup. Some of this mistrust reflects a healthy skepticism that Americans have always had toward centralized authority. And the disappointing economic growth of recent decades has made Americans less enamored of nearly every national institution.