Issues 2016: The size of government

Issues 2016: The size of government

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The government leviathan continues to grow, and Republicans seem more concerned with managing the growth than stopping it.

U.S. Capitol | Image Architect of the Capitol (.gov image)
U.S. Capitol | Image Architect of the Capitol (.gov image)

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2015 — As the 2016 election heats up, voters are faced with an unusually high number of choices. We have statists of every flavor, from communists to socialists to neo-fascists to Keynesians, to a capitalist or two.

Without sorting out the field, let me point out a few philosophies we don’t see in the mix.

Nearly all the hopefuls espouse some new programs they want to initiate to cure the problems brought on by existing programs. They want to fix Obamacare; they want to fix the Fed. They want to fix welfare. They want to fix the “union problem.” They want to fix immigration, or Social Security, or ISIS.

One particularly clueless and desperate party-switcher wants to force adoption of the metric system.

Each has some way to fix each of the broken systems we all recognize, from our infrastructure (that received a trillion dollars in TARP and QE1, and which is still crumbling after the money has been absorbed) to our national security / spy network (including everything from the NSA to the FBI and CIA to the IRS and their impressed slave labor in our banks), to our port-bound Navy, our toothless Air Force in the China Sea, and our ammo-light troops, deployed in over 120 countries that are not our own.

Hillary Clinton’s accomplished lifetime of looking busy

Everyone in the race and near the race has a finger to point, but none sees the source of the problem.

Congress delegates all its power to the Executive. It does this either through direct action (by not even threatening impeachment of a president who changes laws at his whim) or by ceding their regulatory powers to Executive-branch agencies, which wield nearly unlimited and virtually unsupervised power over every facet of American commerce and even private life.

The Supreme Court “interprets” laws in manners that reflect the opposite of the words of the laws. They rely on increasingly-wild precedents before referring to the laws or the Constitution itself, resulting in ever more ambiguous governance; only the Executive has increased its power, to the point where the law is, literally, whatever the President says it is. This is the very definition of a tyranny, and we’re in it. The current candidates aren’t looking at the problem, because they all want that power for themselves.

The problem is obvious, simple, and huge: It is the size of the government.

A large government presents two types of problems. First, regardless of its policies, a large government must stifle prosperity. In order to fund itself, a large government must absorb the productivity and resources of its people. Government produces nothing. At best, it redistributes wealth, but only after it first supports itself. And the more redistribution it does, the greater its own needs, and the smaller the benefits as proportion of the costs.

For this mathematical reason itself (and again, regardless its intentions or methods), big government is a bad idea.

The second problem is that, in order to make its great confiscations of wealth, its inevitable corruption and waste, and its uneven redistribution — for if redistribution is “even,” why do it? — plausible to the plundered productive public, it must constantly expand its control over commerce and industry. That translates into regulations on people: what they do and how they interact.

Rx for Republican victory: Progress, people first, candidates second

Some government is necessary for society to function in our own best interests. Government should enforce contracts, so that people can conduct their lives with some expectation that others will do as they pledge. Government can prosecute violent crimes, so that people can spend their time in pleasurable or profitable pursuits rather than in building private armies for their own protection. Beyond those basic functions of government which can be found in half a dozen of the Ten Commandments, in Hammurabi’s Code, or in what earlier generations called “natural law,” additional government removes opportunity.

Beyond those few basics which expand freedom, additional government destroys freedom. Beyond the basics, additional government impoverishes its citizens and eventually enslaves them. It cannot be otherwise.

So, as we listen to our ruling class tell us how they’ll fix things, remember that the things they’re fixing were the grand solutions of their predecessors. The only thing that is changing is how many things they now need to fix, and the price of those fixes in terms of our prosperity, freedom, and future.

The only fix that can possibly yield a good result is a smaller government, the smallest government possible to maximize freedom among the population rather than to curtail it.

Where does this leave us, as we sift through two dozen already-declared candidates, with more surely to follow? As for me, I shall enthusiastically back the candidate who will reduce and not merely “slow the growth of” the size and power of government.

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