Anything to Reduce the Size of Government

I’m not much for labels, and I refuse to say I’m a Democrat, or a Libertarian, and I assume it goes without saying I reject the notion that I am a Republican.

But if you had to pigeon hole me, I’m something of a little “l” libertarian, at least as far as that means I’m socially “liberal” and economically “conservative”. I don’t like government waste any more than the next guy. Waste, that is, government waste.

But the big “L” libertarians often use a certain phrase that I just don’t understand. For example, my friend and Dallas criminal defense lawyer Robert Guest uses it in a post about tea parties:

As a libertarian I'm for anything that reduces the size and scope of government.

You’re for anything that reduces the size and scope of government? How about…

  • Closing down all the public schools?
  • Doing away with the fire stations?
  • Reneging on our promises and cutting off Medicare for the elderly?
  • Shutting down all the prisons (not just the 50% filled with drug war victims)?

I’m for funding science and technology research, including arguably unnecessary programs like NASA. Financial aid for undergraduates seems like a good idea, but I suppose a strict economic conservative could make a reasoned argument against it. Maybe the private sector could do a better job delivering mail than the U.S. Postal Service seems to. I doubt it would, but I’d be willing to listen.

But anything that reduces government? Isn’t that going too far?

[Update: Windy Pundit answers back.  He points out not only the obvious - that the "anything" part is an exageration, but defends the big "L" libertarian position well.]

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Jim - April 26, 2009 8:46 AM

The original concept of our republic was a federal government with limited, enumerated powers and functions. We have forgotten that.

The reality is that there are some things that governments just should not be involved in. There are many things governments don't do well at all. For example, the vast majority of scientific progress happens outside of the government. NASA is built on the work of Dr. Goddard, that was ridiculed by the government scientists of his day. It wasn't until WWII and the introduction of the V2 and bazooka that his work was even recognized. If not for the military potential, NASA still wouldn't exist. Areas such as radio, electronics, computers, etc. have similar stories.

Next, governments shouldn't be competing against its own citizens. Some areas, such as defense and public safety, need to be done by the government. Others, such as health and banking need some government coordination, regulation, and arbitration.

When you get into areas like sports facilities and "economic development" incentives, etc, the government frequently acts against the wishes and best interests of the people they are supposed to serve. They frequently inhibit what their citizens do want or need so that it won't interfere with government programs.

In the end governments are only needed and suitable for a limited number of functions. Outside of those few areas they operate in failure mode. Governments also need to be limited on how much of the wealth of their citizens should be taken for their few necessary functions. over a third of the average citizens paycheck goes to the government through various taxes, user fees, etc.. So today with the excess of where the government is, and the bloat even where it should be it would be hard to argue against anything that reduces the size and scope of government.

rowland - May 8, 2009 2:03 PM

I don't think libertarian fits your self-described perspective. Libertarian isn't just about waste. It's about shifting pretty much everything back to the states.

That said, I've embraced the notion that there is some Libertarian within me, as well. I think it comes with being an American, especially a Texan - as long as Perry keeps us in the Union.

So a year or so ago, I wondered what liberal libertarian groups there are out there. I was shocked to find none. None! Why is that?

To me, there are just reasons for liberals to like the libertarian approach of bringing programs back to the state level. For instance, clean water. Frankly, in DC, those people don't give a damn about clean water in Houston. So if clean water was forced to the state level, suddenly you've got a bunch of people who CARE about clean water not just elected into the state house, but knocking on their doors - because it's a hell of a lot shorter trip from Houston to Austin than it is to DC.

So it seems to me that there should be a liberal group that is for returning controls over most issues that affect citizens to the state level. The one downside of this is that some states can't afford certain programs and universality of regulation would be a thing of the past. But there are ways around the funding issue: blanket state grants from the feds to use as states wish, etc. And as for universal coverage of citizen needs, as long as pollution didn't cross state lines, let each state decide what their priorities are.

Nmsrhrik - June 22, 2009 9:53 AM

WVx1C9 comment3 ,

Sandra_Dalene_VanAlstine - August 1, 2009 4:09 AM

Sandra Dalene VanAlstine - Wanted to introduce myself

Thanks
Sandra Dalene VanAlstine

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