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  • Shrinking the Government

    Republicans want to shrink the government. The 2 biggest issues for them are deregulation and tax cuts. Deregulation will cut out government activities and enable...

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Shrinking the Government

Republicans want to shrink the government. The 2 biggest issues for them are deregulation and tax cuts. Deregulation will cut out government activities and enable the "free market" to do its magic. Tax cuts will deprive the government of funds so it will not be involved in anything - except military activities to support laissez faire business. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times describes a country that lives up to this Republican ideal:


It has among the lowest tax burdens of any major country: fewer than 2 percent of the people pay any taxes. Government is limited, so that burdensome regulations never kill jobs.

This society embraces traditional religious values and a conservative sensibility. Nobody minds school prayer, same-sex marriage isn't imaginable, and criminals are never coddled.

The budget priority is a strong military, the nation's most respected institution. When generals decide on a policy for, say, Afghanistan, politicians defer to them. Citizens are deeply patriotic, and nobody burns flags.

So what is this Republican Eden, this Utopia? Why, it's Pakistan.

Pakistan is not the only country that is "starving the beast." Many African countries are doing the same thing, though not so willingly. I remember Hillary Clinton telling us that Somalia would be another example of a country with limited government.

Republicans are killing America. We have spent years building up America to its currently top place in the world. Now Republicans are trying to tear it down. And what for? To serve the needs of the super-rich and huge multinational corporations.

Joe Stiglitz, the great economist said:

The more developed an economy, the greater the share of resources consumed by the public sector.

Big government is needed to make and implement the rules to make the market function, Stiglitz says. Without such rules you will have chaos, the kind of chaos you have in Pakistan and Somalia.

Shrinking the government is a terrible idea.


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6 Comments

The size of a democratically elected government is the sum of the demands which the people place upon its elected officials, plus what elected officials proffer to insure their reelection, cumulatively.

That word, cumulatively, is where government departs from being appropriately sized, to becoming too large. The problem with all democratically elected governments is their intrinsic disability to end policies and programs and adjust programs and policies in accordance with contemporary needs and circumstances. This is an inherent quality of all bureaucracies, to wait until something is way past broke, to address it.

America would be vastly more prosperous and productive today, if she had adjusted her military and foreign policy at the end of the cold war, to address the future needs for surgical and tactical small operation defenses and offenses. Trillions could have been saved if this one adjustment had been appropriately made. There are countless others which could be itemized like political reforms, but, the point is already well made.

Great topic, btw, Paul.

I hear a lot of Conservatives on TV arguing against regulation and for a laissez faire economy. The best response I have heard to date, is to ask them if they believe each state, county, and township should be responsible for creating their own currency? The instant they reply, of course not, hit them square between the eyes with the accusation that they don't really believe in a free market system, because in a true free market, all parties are free to negotiate whatever bargains they wish, and are personally responsible for enforcing those agreements by whatever Smith & Wesson means are available to them.

The instant a society agrees to create a national currency, that society abdicates all claim to a free market system, and by default, accepts both government action within the marketplace, as well as its regulations necessary to enforce reasonable and just contractual agreements. Enforcement costs money, and taxes are the means by which government captures the means to act as a government.

ANYONE who refuses to accept these fundamentals of government, is an anarchist, whether they realize that fact, or not. Libertarians are anarchists who refuse to acknowledge it. Its why the Libertarian movement in this and all other modern democracies remains a fringe political element in those societies.

Paul, you seem to imply and/or explicitly state that deregulation and tax cuts will lead to "the kind of chaos you have in Pakistan and Somalia." Fortunately, you are mistaken. The chaos of the regions described are a product of enormous geopolitical tensions and economic turmoil. The conditions of the Republican Party and the Pakistani government are not comparable; the two might very vaguely resemble each other in one closed-off view of economic theory, but by no means are they the same.

Now, there are significant implications of enacting the Republican Party platform, such as poor environmental discipline, economic hardship for the middle and working classes and an authoritarian-style government, but above all, we will remain a democracy with functioning (more or less) political and economic systems.

In my opinion, this platform may, of course, lead to our fall from the greatness as the world's lone superpower, but by no means are we on our way to the social, political and economic chaos of countries such as Pakistan or Somalia.

Alexander said: "In my opinion, this platform may, of course, lead to our fall from the greatness as the world's lone superpower, but by no means are we on our way to the social, political and economic chaos of countries such as Pakistan or Somalia."

Yes, we averted that fate with TARP, the stimulus, and the Auto bailouts. But, just barely. We remain very close to the precipice, however, with but a single catastrophic event between us and the divisiveness of Pakistan, or general chaos and anarchy of Somalia.

David and Paul,

I don't know what it is about hyperbole that everyone on this site loves, but the idea that our situation could equivalent to Pakistan's or Somalia's is just wrong. These are gross oversimplifications. Without TARP and the various stimulus packages we arguably would've slipped into a depression. To say that this could lead to "general chaos and anarchy" is not reinforced by United States history. Times have been worse and more dire, socially and economically, than they are now.

What makes everyone say this? How could the United States ever remotely resemble the social structure of Pakistan, with extreme prejudice and inequality? How could Americans ever revolt (anarchy), or even think to, against the strongest military and political power in history? And why didn't these things ingrain themselves firmly during the Great Depression?

Pakistan lives in the 14th Century and Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world; both for reasons uncommon to most countries and elaborated on briefly above. The idea that economic woes could easily throw us into these states is absurd.

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