Arguably the most successful state enterprise in human history, however, is the United States military, which has almost single-handedly established the modern information economy. The development of the computer was initially funded by the US army; the country’s navy financed the research that created the semiconductor; and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency developed the Arpanet, the precursor of the internet.
Yup. Military funding of the basic research was indeed involved. And then, because such knowledge is indeed a public good, a public good that had been funded by taxpayers, they gave that knowledge away.
All of which is a very different point from the one that Chang is trying to prove here, which is that state run companies are a good idea. Indeed, I would argue that it’s precisely because DARPA and the others *only* finance the original research and do not try to take a stake in it or direct its commercial exploitation that the system works.