How big should government be?
To the editor:
The size of government can vary to almost any degree. The kings of old had total ownership and power over absolutely everything as does a modern day dictator. This may be efficient for a small group if the dictator is rational and benevolent. But most modern-day countries are too complicated for one person to control everything. Even if he or she delegates to a lot of assistants, it is nearly impossible. And not all of the leaders will be rational and benevolent. The saying power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is true. So even if a leader starts out good, he will not stay that way.
To define what government size should be, perhaps we should define what is government. Government is power. Government is force. It is how the leaders control the people. When someone gets power he or she usually wants to keep it and will do anything to keep it. Things that have been done to keep power are: silencing any dissenters by fear and controlling speech; threatening violence; and, committing violence and mass murder.
The United States was originally created as a country with minimum government and maximum freedom for its citizens. All other forms of government mean more power to the government and less freedom to the people. Over the years the U.S. government has increased its size tremendously, resulting in less freedom for the people. Limited government still exists to a lesser extent and it is that freedom that has made the U.S. the richest country in the world. The first ten amendments to the constitution, also known as the“Bill of Rights” are what guarantee our freedom.
Other forms of government today can be similar as democracy has become popular. But the details of how the government actually works can still restrict freedoms. Many democratic countries have some degree of welfare state, which sounds very nice, but that reduces incentive for the individual to strive to excel. The amount of regulations can have a huge impact on the relative amount of individual freedom and government power that a country has. Regulations are supposed to protect people or the environment, but often they just serve the interests of the government leaders by making government more powerful and restricting the economy. Every regulation, good or bad, limits someones freedom.
An excellent example of the effects of an over powerful government can be seen by comparing North and South Korea. North Korea government is all-powerful, totally restricts freedoms and will kill anyone who disagrees with it. The leader is fat and happy while the people starve. The economy is non-existent. South Korea has a democratic-limited government and it is wealthy, active, and a true success.
Socialism and communism are common today also. Communism is just socialism taken to the extreme. Socialism is defined as government ownership of the means of production. They can seem to be good for the population — theoretically, everyone will have everything they need. But it can not work because the individual need of self interest is not addressed. Even worse is that it concentrates power in the central government Many countries have some degree of socialism, including the United States – giving the government more power and the people less freedom. I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” A variation of this by an unknown source is, “Any government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything you have.”
Concentrating too much power in the hands of government is always dangerous, and ultimately government power leads to something like dictatorship. The siren song of socialism can seem to be attractive, but it means more power to the government, and in the end, less freedom. Many people complain that free enterprise leads to uneven distribution of income and wealth. But consider that even though no money is involved, government leaders in a powerful government have access to the best of everything, and those outside government fight for scraps. Distribution of wealth is actually worse in socialism than in capitalism.
Here are a few examples. The socialist/communist countries of The Soviet Union, China, and Cuba killed millions of people who disagreed with them in their early days. These are extreme socialist countries where the government acts as a dictatorship. China was a failure until the party leaders decided to permit some limited capitalism. The Soviet Unions people struggled just to stay alive and people were shot who tried to escape. The people in all three countries live in fear of their government. So far, all of the solutions to climate change involve massively larger government. So I wonder what is the true goal of these proposals?
In general, all government is best that governs least. It is inherently corrupt and inefficient, and generally only acts in its own self interest.