Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Big Gubmint for its own sake

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said in a speech on the floor Tuesday that “too often, it seems, Democrats in Washington claim to be interested in helping those in need, when what they really seek is to protect big government.”

I hear this a lot from my conservative friends, and I guess my question is: To what end? Why would we love big government if not as an ends to helping those in need?

Conservatives value small government for its own sake--they believe smaller government produces more liberty. I think that's an insight worth considering, frankly. But some of my conservative friends (like Mitch McConnell above) seem to then assume the inverse is true: Liberals want Big Government because, well, we really love Big Government.

It doesn't really make sense. The truth is that lots of liberals really do want to help the less-fortunate, and see government programs and regulation as the best way to do so. There's nothing tricky about it, no love of government for government's sake.


Ben said...

McConnell assumes too much, I think, and you might be assuming too little. All of those programs you love so much require people to administer them -- accountants, lawyers, clerks, researchers, dreaded "compliance officers" and the like. To cut those programs would require shedding tens, hundreds, even thousands of those people, many of whom are union members, to say nothing of the fact that they probably have families, homes, car payments, etc. How could we possibly let them go? Part of limiting government is limiting the number of government employees. And as we've seen in recent weeks, job protection is not an insignificant issue. I think that's what McConnell is getting at.

(Captcha: "shamit". Seems like that should have an exclamation point at the end.)

namefromthepast said...

Big government simply is not capable, or has proven ineffective, serving as an end to effectively helping those in need.

By default the only thing delivered is big government, less liberty, and empty promises.

Therefore it appears that all democrats seek and defend big government.

Rick Henderson said...

And, Joel, there are some liberals who "love" Big Government to the extent that they believe a large, intrusive regulatory state is a superior way to organize society. They may not see it as intrusive, but it is what it is. You may not fully share that value system, but it's hard to deny the role the bureaucratic state plays in "progressive" public policy.

Captcha: tordis. Bastardized Dr. Who?

namefromthepast said...

One more thing and then I'll be done.

Something that irritates me is liberals always refering to "those less-fortunate" like in this post. Sorry Joel.

This would infer that all that don't take handouts are merely lucky. Like making responsible decisions about life, working hard, etc, doesn't enter in to it.

Some did get bad breaks but not all.

Some who aren't getting handouts got bad breaks and overcame them and that's not luck. I feel refering to it as fortunate diminishes their accomplishments.

Had to say it. Now I'll take a deep breath and have a cold beer.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

One thing that always seems to get left out in this debate is the fact that not just the poor benefit from government assistance. Ignoring this has allowed some commentators to blame poverty on subsidy, and to recommend pulling government aid entirely – with the exception of middle-class entitlements such as social security, government-subsidized student loans, and home-mortgage tax deductions. These last three are all "big government" programs that the middle class is built on.

None of us do it alone.

Rick Henderson said...

Left-liberals are intellectually lazy if they assume there would be no (or a much smaller) middle class without gov't student loans, the home-mortgage deduction, Social Security, etc. These programs had a very modest effect until the 1970s.

(The biggest impact may have been the G.I. Bill, which is a government program, but also was offered as a payment of sorts to those who served in the military. I don't consider that welfare.)

If middle-class entitlements were eliminated, government could shrink dramatically ... and the middle class would survive, perhaps thrive.

Rick Henderson said...

I also find it telling that someone would defend the continuance of a massive federal state because the middle class (rather than the poor) needs it.

That mind-set is why we're in such a fiscal hole.

KhabaLox said...

"None of us do it alone."
Excellent point Notorious. And let's not forget corporate farms and energy producers/deliverers.