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Time to Close the Government to Close the Government

December 31, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The year is drawing to a close and we are supposed to be happy that the lame duck Congress survived its usual year-end brinkmanship and threats of a government shutdown. Horrors! What would the helpless people do if politicians weren’t able to legislate, regulate, and dictate in the “public interest”? Why, the republic would collapse.

Not!

The traditional civics book notion of government at all levels is that the state does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. That’s typically seen as creating the framework for a free society—police, courts, defense, basic health and safety, “public” goods which otherwise wouldn’t be provided.

If the state was this focused on its most important and basic tasks, we might notice if it closed. If you rely on government as a matter of necessity for something that truly matters, then it’s obvious when it’s not there.

Unfortunately, the state has turned into something very different. It’s now a welfare agency for the wealthy, a vast soup kitchen for special interests, an engine for social engineering at home and abroad, and a national nanny determined to run citizens’ lives.

While the beneficiaries of programs get excited when the money disappears, no one else cares. To the contrary, closing down Washington’s great income redistribution racket actually would help most Americans.

Yet perhaps the most irritating, even infuriating, government activity is paternalism. What is worse than government taking your money in order to run your life? Often the worst culprits are at the state or local levels.

It’s the basic difference between a gang of highwaymen and caucus of legislators. The first group takes your cash and then leaves you alone. The second group empties your wallet or purse, and then insists on sticking around for your benefit to make sure you’re eating and dressing right, have correct posture, aren’t taking undue risks, and are exercising properly. Your new overseers expect not only regular payment but eternal gratitude for their services.

Consider the concerted campaign against smoking. I’ve never liked the habit. But adults are entitled to smoke cancer sticks if they like. And the idea that not one restaurant or bar in a city of thousands or state of millions can allow someone to smoke is, well, outrageous, especially when people continue to prattle on about the U.S. being a free society.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted to ban large cups of soda. He’s the worst sort of “public servant,” …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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