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The answer to demands for small government


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According to this Wikipedia page,  "Small government is a term generally used in liberalism, especially by political conservatives and libertarians to describe a government with minimal involvement in certain areas of public policy or the private sector, especially matters considered to be private or personal. It is an important topic in classical liberalism, libertarianism and conservatism."


Should we have small government?  I contend that small or large isn't the issue. The issue is "sized to meet the needs of what it governs" or "government that fits".  I dislike saying "right-sized" because of the "right", right there. ;)


We live in a very big and very complex society. It is thousands and thousands of times more complex than society was in 1776 or 1886.  And even more complex than it was in 1986.  Government, in order to govern in a way that makes sense and meets needs, must be  thousands and thousands of times larger and more complex than it was in 1776 or 1886. And even larger than it was in 1986.


Now people in rural Kansas, say, near the Smoky Hill River, might have a different view of the complexity of modern life.

But there are many more people in America's big cities than there are in this place.

The needs of the majority should define the use case. (Yes, with that I'm suggesting a computer science method of defining government. Not set in stone, of course, just an idea.)

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I'd say that a problem for people's rationality is when the language steers their thinking in a narrow direction wrongly and makes them not understand issues.


And that's the art, in large part, of propaganda. The phrase 'small government' is just such a phrase.

Because it makes the person immediately think of the alternative - what' big bad government? There are plenty of examples to think of, real and imagined - Hitler trying to conquer the world, Stalinist USSR, Mao, or even smaller scale like Pol Pot, the government invasive and oppressive. And you recoil and say, 'I don't want THAT'.


Suddenly you're for 'small government'. Feel the freedom!


What the phrase does is to get people not to notice the real issues for society and their well-being - the oppressiveness of 'big non-government', i.e., plutocrats.


Have you ever once seen the right show concern for the QUALITY of jobs, rather than just an obsession that people work? And that's why they have such a high tolerance for low quality, low-pay jobs where the reward go to the few at the top and not the workers, all the while praising how they have people employed.


It's an attractive phrase that seduces people and recruits them to right-wing political support by distorting issues - i.e., effective propaganda.


And it's rather scary how effective it is - people who fall it are so smugly satisfied by every chance to 'spit in the face of government', no matter how much that government is actually representing their interests.


In other words, the government can be the powerless masses only power at times - when it is helping the public - so what did the right-wing propagandist Reagan say? That 'the scariest nine words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'


Ha, ha.


Yet that sort of propaganda supports opposing things like the government ensuring people have healthcare - as Reagan himself was the national spokesman to OPPOSE Medicare.


There is 'bad government' and 'good government', and the phrase 'small government' lumps both together equally, so that Stalin forcing you into oppression and the government forcing companies not to destroy the environment are no different.

Rationally people should see through the propaganda, but many do not. And put on their 'MAGA hat' and smugly are satisfied they have turned against the tyranny of democracy.

That's what the manipulation is designed to do, to setup 'two sides' of an issue where only one looks good. And it's why even Democrats have given in to the effectiveness of the phrase, such as when Bill Clinton said 'the era of big government is over', just surrendering to the phrase 'small government', making it that much harder for good policies to get passed.

Which is why Bernie's efforts have been so key - he never promotes the phrase 'big government', but he clearly opposes the 'small governent' rhetoric by supporting specific policies that show just how false the 'small government' phrase is as something good for the public.

The dirty truth about capitalism is that pure capitalism would see massive plutocracy and suffering, all wealth going into fewer and fewer hands, and utterly tyrannical. It has to be moderated - but you almost never hear any of that from the right. They only talk about 'Communism is bad so support more capitalism'.


For a long time in this country, the word capitalism was understood to include moderating things such as democracy to limit its harms, but for decades the more radical Libertarian meaning to the word has been promoted and replaced the moderated version, while the language has not kept up.

And that's up to liberals to make the case, to educate, to improve the language, and it hasn't been easy with the power of the corporate media, though I rarely see most Democrats even try. Instead they just promote this or that issue, or criticize this or that issue, without addressing the propaganda like 'small government'.

I'm not going to suggest the specific language to push instead, but the phrase 'good government' is under-used by Democrats.

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On 8/23/2018 at 1:02 PM, Craig234 said:

I'd say that a problem for people's rationality

I'm not going to suggest the specific language to push instead, but the phrase 'good government' is under-used by Democrats.

The phrase, "good governance", should be well thought out by all.

Yes, we should trust in our fellow ordinary folk plain as day, we should listen more in the effort to learn and some day grow.

Back in the early sixties healthcare was not so costly when my mom was a nurse. In 1948 Harry S. Truman declared that Polio

was a National Threat and he called for all Americans to do all they could to combat it.

What would we call ourselves now as a nation if we did not work together to do something in the fight against human made 

climate change?


What do we call ourselves at anytime when we do not work together for positive change in a progressive way.

I say do throw away the name of any party, the governance of any people is not about any party name. 

What drives us? What is our motivation in everything we ever strive to do?


The Bush II administration to me still bothers me even more than Trump. Sure, Trump is a circus.

But tell me, what is it that led us into this?


They rejected Bernie Sanders, the moderates said he was, get this, a socialist.

Everybody knows, they say big big government, just will never work.


The smaller government went private, privatized itself. They bundled home mortgages and housing prices went

through the roof so high anybody should have seen the high prices were not sustainable.


They bundled the mortgages, and then, they lied about the investments that were bundled, and then they allowed

anyone to buy a house, making it so easy, almost anyone could get a mortgage, 

and a couple of trillion dollars spent on an illegal war that they said would at most only cost the US taxpayer

50 billion. No they would not raise taxes on millionaires, straight out of no logic, I'd ever seen.


You go to war with the military you were given, Rumsfeld said.


Oh, come on now, please.


Reagan, come on now. Bill Clinton, come on now. 


Last president I still respect was maybe a bit of Bush I, but mostly

he was Jimmy Carter.


Show me what faith truly means...





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"conservatism" uses the term SMALL GOVERNMENT as a adjunct to PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.


They are both scams to insure that laws are not made to protect people from scams like those that should be governed by the SEC.

According to "conservatism", the average home buyer SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT DERIVATIVE FINANCING WAS BEING USED FOR HIS HOME,



How the heck a home buyer was supposed to know that is a "conservative" mystery.


Small government WOULD WORK, if there was a DNA test for "conservatism", and if they were simply all locked up,

leaving the rest of the world without much need for government.

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On 8/23/2018 at 12:07 PM, laripu said:

The needs of the majority should define the use case. (Yes, with that I'm suggesting a computer science method of defining government. Not set in stone, of course, just an idea.)


Can't we have multiple 'use cases'?  What works for New York doesn't need to apply in rural Kansas (or vice versa).  I think that's the beauty of having division of responsibilities between federal, state, and local governments.  Not every issue needs an edict from Washington.  I would ask of every federal law "Why can't this be done at the state level?".   If state (or better yet, local government) can effectively address the issue, then Washington should leave it alone.  


My own interpretation of "small government" is  "efficient and effective government".  Resources are always limited and should never be wasted.   If we are inefficient in the way we handle one challenge (whether it's healthcare, social security, defense, the environment, or whatever) we will have less resources to address the others.  "Just raise taxes" is not a panacea.  For any given level of taxes, an efficient government will accomplish more good for its people.  For that reason, liberals should not reflexively oppose all attempts to downsize any part of government.  


Finally, government is inefficient.  Government workers are not driven by the profit motive.  Other than those who face election, they're not driven by fear of getting fired.  Government agencies move slowly, weighed down by layers of bureaucracy.   If you've ever spent much time working with or around federal government agencies, you'll know what I'm talking about.  They're good people, but their work habits (and the agencies' cultures) have been shaped by decades without any real pressure to perform.  


As much as I hate the way those on the right push 'privatization' as a solution for everything, I do believe that private industry can be much more efficient in the right circumstances (for example, a highway built by contractors vs. government workers).   If the private entity is given good requirements, incentives for good performance, and properly regulated, privatized services can be successful.  Every case is unique and neither side should make up their mind before studying the issue.  

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21 hours ago, Renegade said:


Can't we have multiple 'use cases'?  What works for New York doesn't need to apply in rural Kansas (or vice versa).


We can, for whatever stays inside a state.


Pollution doesn't, in the age of gasoline and pesticides. Commerce doesn't, in the age of mass communications. Genes don't, in the age of genetic engineering.


I don't want states to be able to legislate what kinds of sex or religion or disbelief are permitted in each state.


Pretty soon, you've got a big federal government, and states can legislate about property taxes, sales taxes, and businesses with no on-line footprint and schools. (Provided they don't contravene  federal constitutional protections.)

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On 8/25/2018 at 10:19 PM, Craig234 said:

There was almost nothing good about Bush 41 as president. He only looks better by comparison of who followed.

And you can say that about a lot of president's in the last 60 years or more. You need a push from the people no matter who is president, with the exception of Trump, and Bush II, and likely Nixon. I was never happy with Clinton, not because he was a womanizer or because he was a crook - he wasn't in my opinion. He went along because yes, the right in Congress, you know, the Republicans went ape. Clinton was not courageous. Most presidents just aren't. We thought we would see more change with Obama, but again the Republican party just would not

do anything other than obstruct progress. 


And sadly, there just are a lot of white professionals who feel as though there has been some kind of reverse racism. Like the movement to underhand diversity in major universities. 


That is a problem. The elite schools only have so many kids they can admit. I know, we've taken my daughter to many of the elite schools. You need 1530 minimum in the SAT to get in. and even then it's really like winning the lottery. I have no qualms with a minority moving ahead of the lottery when they come from an underprivileged family. I think it needs to be that way. I smile when a person of color from an under privileged background gets into an elite school since I know it can change their lives outcome in a big big way. They deserve it! My daughter feels the same way. We have to be critical thinking and understand the road blocks folks have had to face for and far too long. 


If you work hard in this country you can make it. But unless your blind, it should not be hard to understand the difficulties some face. What are the reasons why this country has become so Neoliberal, and why is there so much more inequality now today. There are lots of variables, many of which have been sponsored by the legislators who are controlled almost completely by their large donor class.


"Read my lips", I loved that line!


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