The state charged to provide an enabling economic environment and basic services for both business and citizen is beginning to resemble Otto von Bismarck's put-down of late 19th-century Italy: "It has a large appetite but poor teeth."

Our government cannot ensure regular electricity or even basic sanitation at primary schools, or safely care for psychiatric patients. But its appetite to encroach ever further into the sections of our economy that actually work appears limitless: health care, private farms, and even the rare foreign firm actually wanting to invest here. All these our political masters want to control. Or anaesthetise. Or close down.

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