Why Small Government?

I was reminded of the post below from something I heard on Limbaugh’s show on Friday – once again that everything that is old is new again:

You heard Clinton in this bite (impression), “The elderly people on Medicare, they’re now faced with the choice of whether to buy food or buy medicine!” That’s during his administration, by the way. This is the budget battle of 1995. We didn’t even touch on the fear tactics they were using on starving kids, but there was one bite in here where we had Jay Rockefeller talking about health care back in 1995.

He said, “We will spend close to a trillion dollars this year on health care. By the year 2000, we’ll be spending $2 trillion. We can’t wait…” What he was saying was, “We can’t wait to expand the budget. We can’t wait to do health care. We are already,” in 1995, “spending $1 trillion a year. In 2000, we’re gonna be spending $2 trillion.” What are we spending now on health care? Is it getting any more affordable? Is it getting any more plentiful? Is it becoming any more available for anybody?


It hasn’t improved at all. It has gotten more cumbersome. It has become more of an obstacle course. It’s become more expensive, and the only thing that’s changed in US health care is the Democrats have had their hand in it all these year. The only thing that’s changed is that the government has gotten more and more involved in it. This is a profound education right here. We’re spending $1 trillion a year on health care back in 1995, and they had the red flag warning signals up back then.

They were worried. Rockefeller said: If we don’t do this budget deal here and start spending more on health care now, it’s gonna be out of control in 2000. That’s 13 years ago. Thirteen years ago. Actually, this is an 18-year-old sound bite! In the year 2000 he was worried about when it was gonna be $2 trillion in spending. Look at all the money, folks, we’re spending on health care, and look at how much worse it’s getting. And I don’t care where you go in the federal government.

It’s gotten bigger, it has become more cumbersome, and is it any better? Has anything the government is running improved with all of this money?

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. This might as well be printed on every dollar bill. Does it strike anyone else that the answer to the issues of both left and right is less government, not more?

This is what I wrote and posted on October 21, 2011, it seems to have more relevance today:

There has been a significant amount of comment here on these pages regarding the Constitution, health care reform and current governmental policies. There are many more on the Internet comment pages associated with the letters and articles, many points/opinions stated, refuted and stated again but it strikes me that this discussion is not just about liberal/conservative or corporatist/socialist views but rather what role “we the people” want our government to play in our society and our daily lives.

I am a small government conservative. I choose to believe that the best government governs least. Here’s why:

  • I believe that the less that a government takes from society in taxes, resources and capital, the more there is for individuals to leverage to the benefit of society.
  • I believe that power and money are drugs that fuel bad decisions in governance.
  • I believe that a government should be as close as possible to the people it is responsible to, that this is necessary for it to truly operate with the consent of the governed. The smaller the governmental unit, the better it can understand and accommodate local issues.
  • I believe that the Framers contemplated a limited federal government and reserved the balance of the governing to the States for this exact reason. They certainly understood the logistics issues of post-colonial life and the sheer impossibility of governing a nation as expansive as our new country. In modern life, distances have been bridged but now information and the speed that it travels serve to pose a similar challenge.

There are certainly issues of national importance that have arisen with the coming of a modernized society. Some would argue that there is no possibility that a person in 1789 could know what wonders would exist in 2011. While that is absolutely true, it is also true that a core principle will be just as true today as it was then. The basic concepts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are just as relevant today, even with a different economic and societal context. If we accept that premise, the question becomes: what is the role of our government in today’s world? Should it be limited as in the Constitution or should it be an omnipotent, controlling entity as in Fritz Lang’s 1927 classic, Metropolis?

My opinion is that there is even less reason today for overweening government rather than more. While I opt for less, the current version of the FDR progressives who adhere to the “to each according to his ability to each according to his need” beliefs, opt for more. These are the people currently running the policy engine in the Democratic Party – I dare not call them socialist, Marxist or communist else I be labeled a fascist, Nazi racist. They are what I call “evolutionary Progressives” because they embody bits and pieces of all of these ideologies. This “evolutionary” political theology exists in a “flexible” view of the Constitution as a “guideline”, immigration reform, health care law, financial reform, social policy, budgetary policy and soon to exist in tax policy due to our ballooning national debt.

We are experiencing the modern day version of “Atlas Shrugged” where the output of the producers is transferred to the non-producers. It is without argument that the Federal government takes taxes from the state and local level only to repackage them and redistribute them to “equalize” funding and in some cases, send the money right back to the location where it started (the Grand Lagoon bridge in Panama City for example). Earned income credits for people who pay no income taxes, “stimulus” programs, earmarks and now the health care mandate are prime examples.

Why would we have such an inefficient system? The answer is that the real product of this process is power…and lots of it.

The cause of this drift is feckless politicians more intent on self preservation and mollifying whatever constituent/lobby group that they believe can keep them drinking from the cup of power. We have too many of our representatives who “grow” in office in opposition to the principles they were elected on. We make too many laws with no intent of enforcing them (or selectively enforcing them). There is more interest in pulling a sleight of hand, the old “plausible deniability” dodge, to stay in office than standing on principle. It isn’t exclusive to either major party. Bush ran as a conservative and became one of the biggest spenders in history. Even Obama ran as a left of center, post racial president and yet he has failed to close Gitmo, is still in Iraq and Afghanistan and will tax people making less than 250K, uses race and class as a wedge and isn’t even really “left” – he’s just an incompetent and a crook. Adding insult to liberal injury, he has adopted almost all of Bush’s national security initiatives and even expanded on the very programs that he ran against – his promises come with an expiration date.

Unless and until we are able to start electing representatives who are capable of standing on traditional Constitutional principles, politicians who trust in, and have the trust of, the people they represent, we are going to continue to drift away from the individual liberty that built this country.

Both sides are angry at the government – some, like the #OWS crowd ignore the government’s role and aim at the wrong target – but the anger is there. Obama has taken more money from Wall Street than any president before him, yet even the Democrats and President Goldman Sachs wants you “progressives” to be blind to his excess. Barney Frank just threw in with #OWS hippies right before he went to Wall Street to gladhand for money

As I have said, “progressives” are bereft of any apparent sense of irony and hypocrisy. My three requirements to be a modern “progressive” are more in evidence today than ever:

  1. Selective memory/political amnesia
  2. Cognitive dissonance
  3. Confirmation bias

Not really a recipe for a way to “progress”, is it?

My grandfather, Baker Thomas Goodwin, used to say that Washington, D.C. was the only place in the world where a poor man could go, spend a few years, produce nothing but hot air and walk away a millionaire…and if they didn’t leave rich, they were too stupid to send in the first place.  My grandfather was born in 1888, so this is nothing new.

Given that this condition still exists in American government today, why would any rational being want more of it?

36 thoughts on “Why Small Government?

  1. Have a pint, dance some polka, and think on me 🙂

    Dang! I’m singing a German art song at church Sunday. Perhaps I’ll tape it…. I’m easier on the ears than the eyes 🙂

  2. Right on, Utah!

    I think one of the most damaging things to our constitution was the 17th admendment.
    Selecting the Senate on a popular vote. Dose anyone think it would have been possible to pass obama care if the Senate members were selected by Red and Blue state legeslators, instead of being just a extention of the House of Reps.?

    The founding Fathers set our government up to make it as difficult as possible to get legislation passed. Thereby insuring that anything that did pass must be really the will of the people.

    With all the talk in my lifetime of adding more admendments to the constittution,( ERA, Balanced budget,etc.) I would like to see us petition our state legeslatures to embrace the 10th admendment, and push for a repeal of the 17th.

    • From here:

      I’ve said it before but I will say it again, I honestly believe that true reform is rooted in the following:

      Legal respect for the Tenth Amendment:

      “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

      Repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment and reverting to Article I, Section 3:

      Current: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
      Article I, Section 3: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

      Repeal of the Current Tax Payment Act of 1943

      This Act mandated automatic withholding of federal income tax, effectively making private employers the agents of the IRS.

      These three actions, perhaps more than any others, would return the power of government to the people through decentralization of government, ending the hegemony of lobbyists in D.C., devolving the centralized socialist planning philosophy of Washington, making elections on a state level relevant to national government (it would matter who controls state legislatures due to the appointment of Senators by those respective bodies) and returning the power of the purse to the people. I maintain that having to plan for and pay taxes directly out of your bank account creates a greater degree of sensitivity for how much money government spends and why.

  3. Fair warning!
    I’ll be around here off and on again today.
    The Lovely wife had surgury on her shoulder a week ago. So I am filling in with the household stuff.
    Thanks for keeping me from going out of my mind!

  4. If you believe that power and money are drugs that fuel bad decisions in governance.

    Why don’t you promote the end of private property/power? That way a state that cannot be bribed and manipulated by a wealthy minority can use the state as a profit extricating device. As long as there is private property, there will always be corruption.

    • Because private property is the very root of freedom. If you believe what you propose, then why would you want more government? By definition, total absence of government is anarchy, to do what you propose requires total government to enforce distribution. You can’t have it both ways. You don’t seem to get it but you are arguing for totalitarianism, not the supposed democracy of a “dictatorship of the proletariat”.

      To posses something that no other person can dictate what you do with is the very essence of liberty. John Locke wrote:

      Following are selected sections from Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government:

      First, Locke stated that it is a natural right of man to own property, to take command by God given right of the means necessary to provide for his sustenance.

      Sec. 25. Whether we consider natural reason, which tells us, that men, being once born, have a right to their preservation, and consequently to meat and drink, and such other things as nature affords for their subsistence: or revelation, which gives us an account of those grants God made of the world to Adam, and to Noah, and his sons, it is very clear, that God, as king David says, Psal. cxv. 16. has given the earth to the children of men; given it to mankind in common. But this being supposed, it seems to some a very great difficulty, how any one should ever come to have a property in any thing: I will not content myself to answer, that if it be difficult to make out property, upon a supposition that God gave the world to Adam, and his posterity in common, it is impossible that any man, but one universal monarch, should have any property upon a supposition, that God gave the world to Adam, and his heirs in succession, exclusive of all the rest of his posterity. But I shall endeavour to shew, how men might come to have a property in several parts of that which God gave to mankind in common, and that without any express compact of all the commoners.

      Sec. 26. God, who hath given the world to men in common, hath also given them reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life, and convenience. The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being. And tho’ all the fruits it naturally produces, and beasts it feeds, belong to mankind in common, as they are produced by the spontaneous hand of nature; and no body has originally a private dominion, exclusive of the rest of mankind, in any of them, as they are thus in their natural state: yet being given for the use of men, there must of necessity be a means to appropriate them some way or other, before they can be of any use, or at all beneficial to any particular man. The fruit, or venison, which nourishes the wild Indian, who knows no enclosure, and is still a tenant in common, must be his, and so his, i.e. a part of him, that another can no longer have any right to it, before it can do him any good for the support of his life.

      A man has the sole rights to the fruits of his labor:

      Sec. 27. Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature hath placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other men: for this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others.

      And note that the covetous and quarrelsome have no right to claim any product of that labor, nor do they have a right to claim that the industrious are required to provide for those who are not productive in the use of the skills and faculties that God has given them.

      Sec. 34. God gave the world to men in common; but since he gave it them for their benefit, and the greatest conveniencies of life they were capable to draw from it, it cannot be supposed he meant it should always remain common and uncultivated. He gave it to the use of the industrious and rational, (and labour was to be his title to it;) not to the fancy or covetousness of the quarrelsome and contentious. He that had as good left for his improvement, as was already taken up, needed not complain, ought not to meddle with what was already improved by another’s labour: if he did, it is plain he desired the benefit of another’s pains, which he had no right to, and not the ground which God had given him in common with others to labour on, and whereof there was as good left, as that already possessed, and more than he knew what to do with, or his industry could reach to.

      So suffice it to say, Locke would not have been down with the Occupy Wall Street “movement”, Obama’s administration or any of the “progressives” for that matter. Ole John was not a big fan of redistributin’.

      • Clear as a bell, Utah!

        But like the fencepost cannot hear the tolling of a bell, It will be lost on some around here as well.

    • Karl,

      You’re an idiot. A state that cannot be corrupted? never been such a creature and never will be — because the “State” does not exist — only men and women.

      Besides, Marx missed the FACT that he was just transfering property, as well as power. You see, consolidate all labor in the hands of the State, and the property becomes the people, themselves. And lookie-lookie, people like you will fight over who gets to run the State. Nothing changes except the people in power — which is why you demonstrate your greed and envy by sticking to your fallacious arguments.

      • Amen. States are made up of men, man is corruptible, ergo the state can be corrupted. It’s not a fatalist perspective, it is just that every individual wants different things, has different opinions and defines things differently. We are not cookie cutter automatons waiting for a sovereign to direct us.

        • If humans are corruptible, then why do you advocate a capitalist system rather than a socialist system? If they both are essentially flawed, in that both are managed by humans.

  5. Repeal of the Current Tax Payment Act of 1943

    If people had to write that check out every quarter, They’d d–n well start caring where their money went!
    Thanks for reminding me!

  6. Because private property is the very root of freedom. If you believe what you propose, then why would you want more government? By definition, total absence of government is anarchy, to do what you propose requires total government to enforce distribution

    Private property is not freedom. Freedom is not even real.
    I don’t advocate anarchy or freedom. I advocate a state of the people.

    John Locke assumes rights exists, this is a lie. Rights, natural law, freedom and other ideals, are just ideals. It is funny some of you deny the existance of collectives a.k.a collections of people with similar traits. Yet affirm non-universal concepts such as rights and natural law as permanent reality based fixtures of the universe.

    Like I have said before, idealist musings do not equal reality.

    • If I have ever read a more idiotic statement, I can’t remember when.

      Answer me this, Komrade Karl – assume man is in his absolute natural state. Let’s say that we take you and air drop you into the middle of the Amazon by yourself (some would likely term that “a good start”). What constrains you from doing exactly what you want to do? Would this natural state not be the absolute in true freedom? You obviously have to do the basic things, i.e. food, clothing and shelter, to survive but even the quest to survive proves the activities are essential to human survival, ergo “natural”. So you see, you collectivist twit, the accumulation of property and freedom go hand in hand and are not “ideals” – you can’t survive by eating “ideals”.

      If you meet another person or group of persons, you choose to associate with them and how much freedom you are willing to give up in exchange for easing your work to accumulate the big three of food, clothing and shelter but that choice is again, an individual choice, not a collective one. If you agree with the rules, fine – if not, you go back to your solitary life. Not in your world where individuals are forced and coerced to react to the will of the collective without choice…and leaving the collective is not possible.

      Joe has is exactly right in his post here: The Cooperative vs. The Collective.

      That is as basic as I can translate Locke for you. I can’t take credit for proving you wrong any more than Locke can – Nature and Nature’s God did that – but I will agree with you, idealistic musings do not constitute reality – unfortunately for you, nature does – and capitalism is more in alignment with nature than collectivism.

      • Man is a slave to material conditions. I can do what I can in the jungle, except make a block of ice. This situation is ridiculous, humans are social beings. No man is an island.

        Is freedom choice? The world does not give you unlimited choices. This is a fact idealist can’t accept, they believe that an individual can accomplish anything, merely because an individual desires to do so. The truth is that options are limited for an individual. If an individual wants to enjoy more, he should participate in a collective. That is not a choice however, biology deems humans to be born into a collective.
        If you are arguing for the choice of some people to run off into the woods and live by themselves. Then I am not against that.
        But if you argue for individual control over collective labor and property. Then it is contradictory to the progress of the working class.

        • Again, I default to Lenin’s statement of “Who, Whom?. Who plans for whom, who sets the ruled for whom? In your world and by your own definition of man as a social creature, this has to be decided – and this is where the collectivist model has always failed – due to corruption.

          Man is a social creature by choice – and only when there is an advantage in it. We all have choice within our own circumstances. There is absolutely no possible way for any government to equalize every condition in the world to support your concept of “freedom” where everybody shares everything.

          There is absolutely no intellectual foundation to your philosophy. Your propositions are built on situations that have never existed except in a theoretical, controlled world – that is why they have never, and will never, work.

          • The workers produce and distribute.

            What is wrong with this?

            I don’t have a concept of freedom that differs from yours, and I am not asking for a state to redistribute land and property for equality’s sake. I am promoting a state by and for the working class. You are promoting a state for and by the bourgeoisie. Your philosophy has many holes in it, for instance you are not anarchist, but promote individualism and freedom as the divine natural order. How can you reconcile individualist freedom with a state? The second a state does anything to limit an individual’s freedom, the state has violated the divine natural order. Instead of the government persecuting criminals and building roads and enforcing traffic laws, it should be private courts, police and corporations. This political orientation is called anarcho-capitalism, it takes your philosophy to its logical ends. No, you bourgeoisie want both a state that will create laws, but won’t create certain “bad” laws.

            Marxism is not a philosophy as much as it is a science, it is based in economics, the political portion of Marxism comes from the theory that the working class will be able to realize the current system abuses them economically and will seek to create a new system.

  7. Karl,
    Can you enlighten me?

    ” I am promoting a state by and for the working class”
    “How can you reconcile individualist freedom with a state?”
    ——So exactly, what ARE you advocating?

    you bourgeoisie want both a state that will create laws, but won’t create certain “bad” laws.
    —–The problem with that is?

    “Marxism is not a philosophy as much as it is a science”
    —–Science? Then why has it NEVER worked ANYWHERE! (Show me where I’m wrong.)

  8. Pingback: The Law In Tension: Ius Naturale, Ius Civile and Ius Gentium | The Rio Norte Line

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