Why Big Government Doesn’t Work
Eventually, the tick is going to bring down the dog.
Everyone with half a brain, which precludes a shocking number of liberals and people under 30 apparently, realizes that big government doesn’t work. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out.
Just deal with some government employees, look at how much money they spend, and pay attention to some of the startlingly awful decisions the government makes on a regular basis. You will understand after that – or at least you should. So many people don’t. That’s why it’s worth talking about why big government doesn’t work in more depth.
There are a lot of things we need to discuss here, but first and foremost, you have to remember that no one can do as good a job spending your money as you do yourself. That’s not only because you have an appreciation of what it took to earn that money in the first place, but because no one understands your wants, desires, and interests like you do.
You’re a conservative country boy who lives out in a cabin back in the woods with your family. You hunt, fish, home-school your kids, drive your truck into town for a few beers with buddies, and are generally happy. Then, suddenly you get an incredible offer. Give it all up for 100 million dollars. You’d be a fool not to do that, right? There’s just one hitch. Someone else that you will never talk with, or meet will be deciding how you spend that money and as it turns out, he’s a professor from Berkeley. A well-meaning one though!
So, he thinks about what he’d want if he suddenly came into a 100 million dollars and he buys you a nice mansion, right in the middle of Los Angeles. He gets you a Lamborghini and of course, stocks your house with the vegetarian food he loves to eat. Mmmmm… soy! He knows that your kid has a birthday party coming up soon, so he hires a drag queen to come perform and he even pulls some strings to get you tickets to the Oscars. You’ll be sitting right next to Ellen DeGeneres! Also, he makes some nice, generous donations in your name to Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and most importantly, to Berkeley.
So, how does that sound? Feeling good about that 100 million dollars? No, you probably don’t because it isn’t what you wanted. Guess what? If you went item by item through what the government spends your tax dollars on, you’d have the same kind of experience. Our government spends all day, every day, doing things we didn’t vote for, ask for, or want.
Take a look at these expenditures from Rand Paul’s 2022 report on government waste and consider the fact that the government thinks these are better uses of the money than anything you could have done with it if they hadn’t confiscated it from you.
Your money matters a great deal to you, but to people in DC, it’s just monopoly money, and guess what? Their goal isn’t to use it efficiently to help the American people.
The politicians want to use the money to buy votes and the bureaucracies all want more power and bigger budgets. Let’s say a government agency realizes that it can do everything it wants to do this year and still has 50 million dollars left over. Do you know what happens then? The head bureaucrats will get together and figure out how to spend another fifty million dollars because if they don’t, they can’t justify getting a budget increase next year.
You also have to consider the type of people and environment that exists in big government.
What sort of people do government work? Elon Musk-style entrepreneurs? Most of them would probably consider killing themselves before working as a bureaucrat. The people that are all about helping other human beings? People like that are working as doctors, nurses, priests, and social workers.
Do you know who works for the government? Mostly people whose primary concern is getting a pension or taking a low-effort job that is hard to get fired from interspersed with the sort of low-level tyrants who get off on exercising power over their fellow human beings.
So, imagine taking those people and putting them in a stifling, overregulated system that encourages everyone to do the minimum, take zero risks, and try to assert authority over their fellow citizens and you will probably have a better understanding of why Ronald Reagan said:
Incidentally, the only people worse than the bureaucrats are the sort of activists and politicians who actually like big government. Granted, a lot of them have simply figured out it’s easy to bribe one group of people into voting for you with another group of people’s money.
They’re not good guys. They’re not trying to help, they’re just self-interested – still, it could be worse. How, you ask? Because there’s another strain of big government advocates who like the idea of using government to force everyone to do things they wouldn’t voluntarily do for “their own good.” They’re the sort of people C.S. Lewis talked about when he said:
These people don’t care about what you want, they just have some pie-in-the-sky goal they claim will help humanity. These are the sort of people determined to drag us back to Flintstones technology to fight global warming or teach all kids that they can change gender at will. If the people don’t want that or they end up ruining all sorts of lives in the process, it’s:
In their mind, their job is not to do what you want, YOUR JOB is to facilitate their grand plans. The citizen is the servant, and the government is the master.
Of course, these grand plans often don’t work very well because the bigger the government gets and the more things it inserts its slimy tentacles into, the more powerful personages and corporations are forced to lobby for their own interests.
It’s ironic to hear so many liberals complaining about “lobbyists” and “the wealthy” influencing things because they are the ones who created that. At this point, pretty much every profession, industry, and interest needs to have lobbyists in DC because the government is intimately involved in their business. If you’re not lobbying the government, then you may lose out to one of your competitors that is paying people to whisper into the ears of Congress.
If you really wanted to curtail the influence of the rich and powerful in DC, the best way to do it would be to have a small government because the less government does, the less reason the rich and powerful have to be trying to influence them in the first place.
Last but not least, the sheer size that big government inevitably expands to over time is a huge problem in and of itself. You see, big government is like a ratchet where everything almost inevitably only turns one way. They may add power, but they don’t give up power. They may add government agencies, but they don’t get rid of government agencies. They may spend more, but they almost never cut spending.
How many times have we heard politicians say they’re going to save money by “cutting waste.” Lots, right? And there’s certainly plenty to cut, but it never happens.
Why? Because people don’t tend to howl over new spending, but they go berserk if you take money away from them. Because the bureaucracy tends to be extremely good at killing things in committees, legislative dead-ends, or because a handful of prominent people oppose changes. Because big government starts with the assumption that spending will increase every year and will get larger over time.
The problem with all this is that the government essentially has the same relationship with the American people that a tick has with a dog. Granted, you might say, “Well, a tick only takes from a dog, but the government gives us something back.” That is true, but the average person gets precious little benefit from government spending.
We could have a government with roads, street signs, police forces, a military, border patrols, basic regulations, public parks, and a few other necessities for a tiny fraction of what we spend today, and most people wouldn’t even notice the other things that disappeared.
Do you know what the impact on the average American is when we have a government shutdown? Absolutely nothing – and that’s with the government usually trying to shut down things that people will notice.
In any case, there’s another difference in this analogy. A tick only gets so big. At this point, the government is like a tick the size of the bowling ball hanging off the side of the dog, weighing it down.
People forget that every dollar the government collects in taxes is a dollar that can be used for other things including charity, job creation, productivity improvements, and research. We are to the point now where the size of government significantly impacts the size of the economy, the growth of the economy, and the lifestyle of the average American.
In other words, if we had a small government instead of a big government, we might not have aid money to send to the Palestinians or the cash to encourage Ethiopians to wear shoes, but you might have a nicer car and a nicer pair of shoes yourself.
The tick has gotten far too big and one way or the other, it’s going to lead to radical changes down the road at this point. The smart thing to do would be to do it voluntarily, but we’ll probably end up only dramatically downsizing the government after an economic collapse and we have no other choice.
Nobody can tell you exactly when that will happen, and these sorts of severe consequences can sometimes take longer than people think to appear, but don’t kid yourself about the direction we’re heading. Eventually, the tick is going to bring down the dog.