Saturday, February 15, 2014

Why we need less government

You don't have to be a libertarian to believe that we need less government. You just need to understand and appreciate how really huge our government today is and the problems that creates. Brian Domitrovic has a nice essay in Cato's Policy Report which lays it all out. He also does a great job of explaining, from a supply-side perspective, why less government and lower tax burdens would benefit us all. Here's an excerpt, but I recommend reading the whole thing:

In 2013 the government of the United States spent 55 percent more money — in real, inflation-adjusted terms — than it did in 1999. Economic growth in that 14-year span has been 30 percent. Where government at all levels soaked up 32 percent of national economic output in 1999, it took in 37 percent in 2013 — an increase of nearly a sixth, in less than a decade and a half. By way of comparison, for the first 125 years of this nation’s existence under the Constitution, through 1914, government spending was largely parked between 3 percent and 6 percent of national output. 
The gorging on the part of government in our recent past has been so unrelenting that aside from flashes from the likes of the Tea Party, the public is meeting the development with quiescence. At $6.4 trillion per year, total government spending is now so immense that any yearning for something smaller and more reasonable from our minders in the state runs the risk of appearing as quaint and otherworldly. Government that is huge and ever-expanding is a matter of concern in its own right. But perhaps less understood is an additional problem: the developments of the current millennium are inuring a rising generation of Americans to the immovable fact of big government.  
It was only when tax cuts did not come in the face of the huge 1999 and 2000 federal budget surpluses that the Fed began its contemporary activism, an activism which grew to an unimaginable extent in the aftermath of the Great Recession. 
This is not to mention the unholy tide of regulation and spending, from Dodd-Frank to Obamacare, which has washed upon us since 2008. Given the resurgence of big government in the 21st century, private enterprise in this country has proven reluctant to explore the full extent of its legendary ambition. 
Instead of conceding long-term mediocrity under Leviathan, we should take inspiration from our past, indeed our recent past. The last time we were stuck with 2 percent growth for the long term, the 1970s and the early 1980s, we mustered a means of narrowing government. The real results were so stellar that to recite them is to take us back to a world we have lost — but only 15 years ago. 
Tax cuts, stable money, and the rendering of spending and regulation as superfluous are the formula of the supply-side revolution — the Reagan Revolution. They stand sentinel right there, not long ago in our history, as the way to advance through our sluggishness and purposelessness today.

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