The tea party gave me hope, but I was fooled again. Within months, the new “fiscally conservative” Republicans voted to preserve farm subsidies, vowed to “protect” Medicare and cringed when Romney’s future veep choice, Rep. Paul Ryan, proposed his mild deficit plan.
It is unfortunate that the United States, founded partly on libertarian principles, cannot admit that government has gotten too big. East Asian countries embraced markets and flourished. Sweden and Germany liberalized their labor markets and saw their economies improve.
But we keep passing new rules.
The enemy here is human intuition. Amid the dazzling bounty of the marketplace, it’s easy to take the benefits of markets for granted. I can go to a foreign country and stick a piece of plastic in the wall, and cash will come out. I can give that same piece of plastic to a stranger who doesn’t even speak my language -- and he’ll rent me a car for a week. When I get home, Visa or MasterCard will send me the accounting -- correct to the penny. We take such things for granted.
Government, by contrast, can’t even count votes accurately.
Yet whenever there are problems, people turn to government. Despite the central planners’ long record of failure, few of us like to think that the government which sits atop us, taking credit for everything, could really be all that rotten.
The great 20th-century libertarian H.L. Mencken lamented, “A government at bottom is nothing more than a group of men, and as a practical matter most of them are inferior men. ... Yet these nonentities, by the intellectual laziness of men in general ... are generally obeyed as a matter of duty (and) assumed to have a kind of wisdom that is superior to ordinary wisdom.”
There is nothing government can do that we cannot do better as free individuals -- and as groups of individuals working freely together.
Without big government, our possibilities are limitless.