Government is big because government at national, state, and local levels has assumed so many functions not even the statesmen of two centuries ago envisioned. The reason that government has grown so enormous, though, is because millions of Americans have discovered that getting money from taxation for services desired is easier than working for a living and safer than stealing.
A majority of a local, state, or national legislature can legally steal income from individuals to give to others through taxation where the individual would be rightly prosecuted as a thief. Individuals join pressure groups and hire lobbyists to get their fair share of government booty. Big government exists today because Americans who benefit directly from government largesse cannot get what they want from a small constitutionally limited government. The result of big government is the almost $9 trillion debt today strapping every man, woman, and child owing $30,000 each.
The individuals who created the United States focused on the proper scope of government activity (i.e. to only securing the endowed rights given to each individual by his Creator) knowing that if they resolved that issue properly, the size of government would take care of itself. However, like the rest of us they were human and left some holes which imperfect humans can and have found.
The coercive power vested in government, operating under the rule of law, was empowered to punish those who impaired another’s life, liberty, or property. This meant a police force, court system, and house of detention. At the national level it also meant a military on tap in case of a foreign threat.
However, as John Adams so aptly pointed out, “The Constitution was written for only a religious and virtuous people, it will serve no other.” In other words, if one is out of control in stealing from his fellow individual, whether directly or through taxation, therefore unable to govern himself, he then requires more control over his private affairs. The founders had all experienced political intrusions into their personal lives and wrote the document to prevent this. Witness the fact that the words “no” and “not” in connection with the restraint of government power occurs 44 times in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. When government is limited, as is called for under the Constitution, to securing the rights of the individual and whose actions are designed to redress injury and otherwise leave people alone, a government is big enough to be able to deter criminal activity and resist foreign aggressors. Beyond this government is too big.
When the law provides a free field and no favor by coercive government power, every business enterprise operates according to the rules of the free market competing for the opportunity to convert the scarce resources of land, labor, and capital into goods and services that please the consumer. In a free market, customers, not government, decide how big a business is to be by buying and not buying. The profit and loss of the business tell everyone how scarce resources ought to be utilized. Business failure is a necessary element in economic progress. A business, when it abides by the rules of the free market, has no special legislative privilege to give it an advantage over others.
Sometimes free market rules frustrate business and business goes and obtains government favor by getting legislation passed to support the use of those resources. This is when government gets too big. Government licenses and permits are examples of such special favors and leads to more special interests vying for more government favor. Government can only grow when more individuals and businesses request more government favors. Through the free market individuals and businesses grow, but government does not.
Steel was made, coal was mined, and automobiles manufactured long before unions were ever established. It was when business began obtaining special favors from government that unions were created in order to do the same.
Lawmakers, looking to gain from the powerful political influence of unions, like they do from business, license unions to use force or the threat of force to gain above market wages for their members. Labor costs increase and unemployment results.
The freer the market from government regulation and special favor, the greater control consumers have over the marketplace. Repealing all special privilege legislation, for business and unions, will go a long way toward restoring a free market. In this way big business and big labor can properly exist without big government.
People for the USA Yuma group is sponsoring a debate among the candidates for Yuma City Council tomorrow, 6 PM, at the Yuma County Board of Supervisors auditorium located at 198 S. Main Street. The public is encouraged to attend free of charge.