a narrow fellow in the lemongrass
"Small Government" means "a government small enough to spend my money only on things that I am interested in and not tax me for the rest". It is used by political opportunists to unify a diversity of short-sighted, selfish people under a common flag, expending the gathered political capital to achieve their own agenda. It results in the three D's: deregulation (usually the first victim, can't make money if the government is limitting profits on necessary services), degradation (of the existing infrastructure and services benefitting the bottom portion of society), and deception (of the middle class, telling them everything is looking rosy while the stability of the class below them crumbles).

While it may mean a specific policy within different Libertarian camps, its abuses by the the current administration are well documented. The "small government" promised by the president in the 2000 campaign has devoured the entire surplus and increased debt to record levels. Many of our safeguards of a civil society have been removed or gone wanting for enforcement while this "small government" parades around the globe on the cheap capital it flooded the market with between 2001 and 2005.

"Small government" is a complete red herring, uttered by those who would make the government subservient to the capital it creates and defends. This self serving attitude would have prevented the National Highway System, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Hoover Dam, and the eradication of Polio. 
----EB Wed Sep 20 06:11:18 2006
Lemon grass grows wild on St. Thomas and makes a delicious, aromatic hot tea.
--YELM Wed Sep 20 07:09:38 2006
death, taxes, and what's that other one? riiiight, politics! ;)
--FoSO Wed Sep 20 10:44:47 2006
Nice analysis, EB!
--The_Lex Wed Sep 20 11:31:15 2006
Thank goodness we had government to build dams and cure polio-- certainly there aren't any market forces out there to encourage the development of drugs and vaccines, much less construct power plants! As a former Virginian and current Washingtonian, please enlighten me as to the great benefits I draw from the TVA, or from the government-subsidized Amtrak which became obselete thanks to the aforementioned National Highway System-- with Big Government, we can have both!
--LAN3 Wed Sep 20 16:51:44 2006
Certainly, LAN3, thanks for the invitation :)
We will go point by point:

Eradicating Polio required a nation wide rollout, so that the vaccine was distributed to every podunk town within a tight timeframe. No commercial provider could or would commit to that kind of rollout at the time. Eradicating the disease required national coordination and the ability to ignore "unprofitability" for eradicating the disease.

The TVA provided development resources to the struggling South in the wake of the great depression. It's largest achievement is electrifying much of the South. Today it is the largest public utility in the US, providing power to 8.5 million customers directly, as well as selling it over 150 power retailers throughout the nation.  Since it is charged with eminent domain, the TVA also boasts the USA's most up to date Power infrastructure. Contrast that with the Northeast, where private property has stymied infrastructure development. The northeast's power infrastructure is the oldest and most subject to systemic faillure in the US. The TVA also provides other tools of economic development, such as fertilizer and flood control. Consider all of this in contrast to the disastrous run of power deregulation in California and its manipulation by Enron, which resulting in rolling blackouts and loss of essential services (hospital electricity). Only by having the tools that big-government can wield was the TVA possible, with both eminent domain and the ability to plan and execute 20 year projects being essential.

As to how it has benefitted you personally, I can only hazard a few guesses. Do you like cheap cotton? If you are wearing Hanes or Levis, chances are you are wearing cotton grown on the cheap energy and fertilizer provided by the TVA.

Amtrak I am not as familiar with, but I will defend it on two counts. First, much of the long distance fiber optic cable laid here in the northeast has been laid alongside the rail bed as part of a federal grant. Do you like highspeed internet service? It would have been a hell of lot more expensive if they had to privately acquire the rights to each acre of land from a separate entity.  By not allowing the land currently held by amtrak to be sold off to the highest bidder, the federal government avoids the re-acquisition fight should an energy crisis reduce the viability of automobiles.

As for the NHS, I think the benefits are obvious.  Having both NHS and Amtrak is prudent, if you can afford it, you should always have a back up plan.

Please show me an example of private industry that did not flourish under some form of government intervention or contract from which you have derived benefit.

There are goals that are larger than private profit, that cannot be pursued on a quarterly timeframe.

----EB Wed Sep 20 19:22:03 2006
Both the TVA example and the Amtrak example indicate that the primary obstacle to a big ol' taxpayer-funded techno-utopia is the strong property laws. Great example of the benefits of Big government-- it'll eventually benefit you by taking away your property now. That's just the sort of government I want. Something that can give me anything, as long as it can take it away, first. 

Sure there are goals that're larger that private profit, and some that should benefit everyone. Some of those things can and should be paid for on a local level, while others can best be done by a national government. NHS is a good example, while Amtrak is a bloody poor one. Further, thanks for the cheap cotton. I'm glad that's yet another crop subsidy that's keeping prices stupidly low just to keep farmers employed, if you can call "not raising crops" some sort of employment.
--LAN3 Wed Sep 20 23:01:46 2006
It's Corn and Corn Alone Day!
--Nick B Thu Sep 21 00:52:25 2006
Both sides of have good points, and both sides have bad points.
--The_Lex Thu Sep 21 06:26:50 2006
Lex, you're becoming as much of a mushy moderate as I am!
--Kirk Thu Sep 21 12:26:54 2006
From a philosophical viewpoint, I'd probably have to consider myself an anarchist. From an idealistic viewpoint of constructive dialogue, I'm something of a totalitarian tyrant. From a pragmatic viewpoint, I don't want to get involved and get all emotionally messed up for a couple days over armchair theoretical politics unless I can understand the other person better and try reaching the ideal stage of constructive dialogue.

Doesn't stop me from entering every time, but it has helped this time. If only other people following this strategy before they became all militant. . ..
--The_Lex Thu Sep 21 12:36:00 2006
Ok, LAN3, lets drop the folksy charm of "big ol" and lose attempt to strawman me by putting the word "utopia" into my argument. 
So far, none of what you have said has rebutted my argument that "small government" is a patoi for drawing together disparate interests or the sake of political power. So I am going to assume that you don't have any point to make on that count.

Your last post leaves me wondering how your world works. How is a government supposed to allocated resources without the ability to acquire those resources? Eminent domain is not the equivalent of "without just compensation", so its not quite the "taking" that you describe. "Not Raising Crops" allows lands to lie fallow and regain nutrient content. Or perhaps you would like a repeat of the Oklahoma dustbowl? Or perhaps chronic over-fertilization like we have in the ConAgra, ADM controlled Mississippi basin, which has resulted in dead zone in the gulf of Mexico? Planning takes time, and disregards short term gain for long term stability.

So aside from fear of big governement, what are you selling here? Until you show me an example of "small government" at the national level, you haven't answered my point. And until you shown me private enterprise, unfettered and unaided by the boogieman of "big government" that hasn't corrupted itself for a profit at the expense of my well being, you haven't made any point on yours. 

----EB Thu Sep 21 20:25:47 2006
I'd totally love to see this conversation go on. Very interesting.

Part of me doesn't want to keep scrolling down, though. It would be great if users had some kind of way to see a list of "Comments posted since last visit," but that would probably require some kind of user account or something. Still would be cool, though.
--The_Lex Fri Sep 22 10:56:29 2006

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