Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why I'm not a conservative; OR--why it is so lonely being a Libertarian advocate of smaller government

... because the GOP never--not just George W Bush never, but never even under Ronald Reagan--meant it.

And I have not found a piece of a rant that I more wish I'd written in a long time than this one from Matt Barganier:

If you think most self-described conservatives really hate Big Government, then you stopped paying attention sometime around, oh, the Nixon administration. Good God, man, if they hated Big Government, wouldn’t they at least dislike the most wasteful and intrusive government programs of them all, from the War on Terror to the War on Drugs? No, they love Big Government, from its big, fat boots to its big, fat head. Oh, they’re angry that some of the loot falls on the, um… undeserving, but that won’t stop them from sucking the teats of Social Security and Medicare to the shape and texture of a deflated football. They won’t abide tax increases, but they see no connection between those and deficit spending. And why should they? Just keep those F-22s coming, barkeep! The grandkids are buying!

What both Republicans and Democrats agree upon is that it is all right for government to keep sucking money out of the economy as long as it is their particular, obviously moral purpose for which it is used.

Then they trick us into arguing about the moral purposes rather than the original question of the morality of the whole process.


kavips said...

Hi Steve, Tyler, Matt. I'm back.

Small government.

I need your help. Where is a good model of small government functioning well in a complex society?

Here is my take. Small government worked well in the territories of the wild west but as complexity followed the original settlers into those areas, government had to grow to deal with its influx.

Point I am looking for. Is whether or not there is a way for small government to actually function in today's environment?

I'd like to see a model of it, but at this point, feel such is an impossible task. Can any of you over there, help?

Steve Newton said...

I will take a shot at answering this (but it won't be immediate as I am out of town for most of the next ten days), but I need three clarifications from you to do so:

1. What kinds of measures for a complex society did you have in mind (size of population; level of technology; nation-state; etc.)? We'd all accept the US or any other large country as a complex society, but, just for example, would you accept a State or a large city? I guess what I am asking is whether you are using the term "complex society" as the stand-in for "nation-state" or not.

2. Do you want only current examples or could you see a relevant historical example qualifying if we can agree on what constitutes a complex society?

3. How do we define "small government" in some way that is not simply a comparative to the equally nebulous term "big government"? By the services it provides, the amount of tax money it takes in, what are you looking for?

I guess what I am saying is that I'm willing to spend the time helping to think about this issue in the way I think you are framing it, but I want a good set of parameters to work with.

For example (just for kicks and grins) building on your "wild west" example, the US arguably started with a "small government" and now has a "big government." At which historical point [or range] do you think the changeover occurred? How you would answer that question will tell me a lot about what you are looking for.