It’s Not Too Little Government – It’s Too Much

Tim Bean

9/28/2012

 

We have been conditioned to think that government, and in particular Presidential, policies are the reason why X, Y, or Z happens; thus all of the “When elected I’m going to do this . . .” we here from politicians; so it just reinforces the belief that government is the answer to everything.  The problem is that once you allow government involvement in something it never goes away.  It in fact actually continues to grow and spread like a cancer into whatever that “something” is.

Governments, though not something explicitly found in the natural world, are quite natural in their want and need to grow.  They are like an invasive species, or weed.  Once it establishes a foothold or sprouted roots then it is very difficult to slow their growth. I challenge anyone to find and point out an example where a culture’s, society’s, or nation’s government was simply happy to being what and where it started out as.  There might be one, but I can assure you, if it exists/existed, it was the exception, not the rule.

It is because of this knowledge of the pervasive want of governments to expand that those who crafted the American Republic did so with as many checks on the power of their new nation’s government as possible.  It is also why when a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “…What have we got?”  Mr. Franklin answered almost presciently, “A republic, if you can keep it.”  In fact, many of our famous founders expressed reservations in the permanence of the system of government they established, and through 20/20 hindsight I’d say they rightly held those reservations.  The American government, through its size, and scope of power is a fully grown and unrecognizable Kraken in comparison to the tiny little newt that was set loose in September of 1787.

Today, the vast majority of people in this country are so convinced of the magical powers of the federal government that the very notion of contemplating even a marginal return to the founding principles seems so far out there as to be considered radical, and is dismissed as shear crazy talk.  The idea that the individual and their natural born rights supersedes the wants and desires of the governments sounds like the ranting’s of a madman (or madwoman).  I mean all we have to do is look around in wide-eyed splendor at what all government has done for us.  Yes, government is pretty much everywhere we look, and go nowadays.  Some of it might be construed as good, and in other areas I’d say is decidedly not good.

So, now that we all believe that the government is the answer we get all of these politicians telling us how government will solve even more of our problems; if we elect them – and then re-elect them over and over again.  It just doesn’t stop there though.  Our illustrious former politicians, specifically ex-presidents, like to trumpet all of “their” glorious successes (they tend to disappear if they are believed to not be so successful) and prime example number one is none other than former President Bill Clinton.

He loves to tell people how great a President he was, pointing to how the economy grew under his reign, and how when he left office the government had a surplus; meaning it was taking in more revenue than it was spending – due in no small part to the growth in the economy.

Here’s the thing though, the economy grew in spite of government, not because of it.  We have to step back and look at what was going on at the time of the Clinton administration in the world – not the political world, but the world where you and I live.  Bill Clinton had the fortune of getting elected at the beginning of what is now referred to as the Information Age; period, it is that simple.  If we can all remember way back to 1993 (Clinton was inaugurated in January of that year) the internet was just then beginning to spread throughout the private sector.  This drove computer sales, which drove chip manufacturer sales, and software sales, and further investments into newer technologies, and so on and so forth.  Precious little of any of this, if any at all, had to do with Mr. Clinton and his Presidency.  The only thing that could have, or would have stopped it would’ve been if the government decided to tinker with it.

Then, almost on cue, as the Clinton administration’s second term ended, so did the tech frenzy; as the “Dot Com Bubble” burst.  There are many theories and explanations for this event, but one that rarely is mentioned or considered is the fact that part of the rapid buildup in this newer, more connected world that came about was the need to upgrade older technologies and programs.  Remember the Y2K scare of 1999?  We were told that we were barreling down Hell’s Highway toward a technological Armageddon.  Planes were going to fall from the skies, ships would surely sink, and the entire planet would be plunged into darkness.  It didn’t happen, because corporations and government agencies were spending tons of money to upgrade their systems, so that they were “Y2K Compliant.”  Then at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2000 – nothing happened – and ta-da the level of funding for IT everywhere got downsized.  Profit margins got cut, irrationally exuberant investors got spooked, and pop goes the bubble.

So, while President Clinton likes to roll around telling everyone how great he was, I’d say he was just fortunate enough to occupy the White House during an extraordinary time in human history.  He basically did nothing.

Fast forward to today.  We are in the middle of another Presidential election year and again, we have the two big tent political machines, and their candidates, telling us all of the things that they are going to do for us, and to get the economy moving again.  Neither of the two big tent guys will even consider alluding to the idea that maybe the government can’t do anything, and when it does, as is chronicled in President Obama’s tenure, the things it does either kicks the can down the road, or has little to the opposite effect on the situation.

We now have a President who is advocating more and more government involvement in private business matters, and he just can’t seem to understand why all of this federal tinkering, and the threat of further government tinkering, isn’t causing the economy to take off like a scalded dog.  Well, there are a couple things to address about this.

First, as mentioned in yesterday’s article, the entire world is in the midst of an economic slowdown; and too much government tinkering only prolongs and potentially exacerbates the problem.  How do I know this?  Well, Iceland, whose economy literally plunged into an abyss in 2008, along with much of the world’s countries, is now growing again at an impressive rate.  What did their government do to create this rapid turnaround; especially considering the rest of the western world is throwing everything and the kitchen sink at their economies to try and jump start them?  Well, to put it in the simplest of terms, the Icelandic government did nothing, or as close to nothing as possible.

And second, there is this President’s continued desire to allude to, if not explicitly state that he believes there should be limits to how successful a person or business can and should be.  That kind of sentiment does not inspire those of entrepreneurial mind to expand, let alone start a new enterprise; which shocker of all shockers actually prolongs the current economic stagnation, and if continued, it might actually cause another leg down for the economy – won’t that be fun?

 

There are those who firmly believe that if the GOP would just get the Hell out of Obama’s way, and let him use his getting ever so tiresome charm on the economy; then we all will be singing from high on hills the praises of this glorious leader.  Umm, no, I am sorry it just doesn’t work that way; and I am not saying this because I believe in the GOP’s rhetorical nonsense.  Going back to the beginning of this article, there are few if any countries that have a measured and sustained level of success when they are governed by the whims of a few, or one.  President Obama should follow the lead of former President Clinton, and even tiny little Iceland, and that is to quit meddling and do as little as possible.  Alas, though he can’t, because that isn’t what he believes in.  He is a devout follower of big state, big government, which history has proven over and over again is a certain path to failure and collapse.

The GOP’s past performance shows that they might be slightly better, in that they at least talk a good game, but their actions belie the words that fall from their mouths – particularly Mitt Romney’s.

Then there is the one guy that both big tent parties want to neither see nor hear from, and that is Gov. Gary Johnson; who actually managed to get elected governor twice, as a Republican, in the primarily Democrat controlled state of New Mexico; where he was essentially a steward of that state, by being smart enough to have the government as less intrusive and meddlesome as possible – and it worked out quite well there.  Too bad no one has heard of him…

 

I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.  (Thomas Jefferson)

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