Plano Texas Politics

July 14, 2009

The 10 Benifits of Small Government

1. The smaller the government the lower the taxes! This is always good. (-:

2. The smaller the government the more freedom the citizens have.

3. The smaller the government the greater the chance of succeeding in a business venture. (One less taxes, few tariffs, no minimum wage, no requirements to give health care, etc.)

4. If there is no rule about the quality of working conditions than working conditions will go up. (Just look at history)

5. The lower the taxes, the more money gets donated to charities.

6. If the government stays out of education than children can get a better education. (See my other posts on education)

7. If the government stays out of health care than there will be better health care. (See my other posts on health care)

8. Thomas Paine said that “The more simple anything is, the less liable it is to be disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered.” S0 the smaller the government the less likely that things can get messed up.

9. The smaller the government the less need of a revolution of words and ideas, or of guns.

10. The smaller the government the more free the market, and the freer the market the better EVERYONE IS.

I know this list is not everything that makes a smaller government good, nor is it perfect put it does have some nice key points.

~James Dalley



  1. I seem to leaving lots of comments with you tonight 🙂

    1. Smaller governments often have higher taxes. Ask the Irish. They have a small government and their tax bill is huge. Larger governments are capable of larger, more organised actions and so benefit from intra-organisational savings, just as larger companies do. This is part of the reason why taxes in the United States are some of the lowest in the world.

    2. Smaller governments are often more restrictive. Big complex governments may seem like they are heavier, but they are often responsible for ensuring those who are minorities are also enabled to be free and not just the majority.

    3. I think it’s even either way. Smaller governments are not as able to help and protect when times go bad though. It was large government that managed to get the US out of the Great Depression because only it had the size and scope to enact large national programmes that could alter the pessimism of markets. Large government is also what got the USA to the Moon and created hundreds of industries in the process, and also what pays for the military and large universities to research and develop exciting new technologies.

    4. Completely false. That principle only applies to senior levels of management in most cases. Looking at history, look at the Industrial Revolution, feudalism, the railroad robber barons etc. Companies left in totally free environments often mistreat and exploit workers.

    5. Sometimes. The US as a whole donates a lot less of its GDP wealth to charities, the arts and so on than the British, who have higher taxes.

    6. National level education breeds standards, which breeds qualified candidates. Countries with much more organised education than the US regularly trump it in numeracy, literacy. Local education can be good, but is very variable. It also leaves opportunity for kids to be left behind because if the local system is no good then there’s no fallback. Many American school education in particular, starved of funding because of these kinds of arguments for decades, are among the worst performing in the western world.

    7. Except in countries that have organised health care, care is much cheaper, better and they live longer than Americans do. These are facts.

    8. Also the less likely it will be able to deal with complicated issues.

    9. That seems to be a circular point. What is “less need of revolution”. You are in a democracy where everyone gets a vote. The only way to revolt from that is to impose something that isn’t a democracy, which would be less free.

    10. Think this one is repeating 1, 3, 4, etc. Completely free markets are volatile and dangerous and they have their problems. Completely free markets are what created the credit default swaps that nearly collapsed the global financial system last year.

    Comment by Simon — July 14, 2009 @ 7:16 pm | Reply

  2. I have to answer the first 4 of your arguments. In all of these though, I acknowledge, as would James, that government not regulating anything even if there are severe abuses of power is completely foolish.

    1) think about the period from 1840 to 1928. What did taxes look like in the United States? we had a tiny fraction of the taxes we have now (and the government was comparatively tiny as far as number of people, or even percent of people) and we were the most prosperous country in the world. Not the richest, but we were inventing just about everything that was being invented, and people would come here destitute and make it somewhere better than they would have where they came from. Quality of life was improving all the time.

    2)James was not actually quite right. But a government smaller in purpose, which gives people equal rights and protects us, could be much smaller as far as numbers than ours today without the problem of being oppressive to minorities.

    3)Government aided optimism in markets got us out of the Great Depression? FDR destroyed any confidence in investing that there was with policies that hurt businesses. I don’t even need economics 101 to know that people get jobs from those with lots of money, and when they are taxed more they have less money.

    4) James did not claim that working conditions could never be bad. Despite employers taking advantage of many, working conditions have gone up (even if to less bad, but still bad) throughout. what’s more, the government often put down unions during the industrial revolution, so who knows how those unions could have done in gaining the same rights the government gave them. The robber Barons are irrelevant-this was not a case of free market but essentially a case of GOVERNMENT doing the wrong. And I don’t expect federal and state governments to do nothing if people are deceptive or infringe on others natural rights.

    Comment by pianopeck — July 14, 2009 @ 11:02 pm | Reply

    • 1. Not quite.

      You were a prosperous economy because of three things: Slavery, cheaply available land with low population density, and a highly willing (thus cheap) immigrant workforce.

      However you also had no real involvement in international affairs which meant your standing armies were small. The US was not a world power in this era, and still very much beholden the whims of the real world powers, such as the vastly wealthier and more organised British Empire. Which was also very active inventive in just about every area of life. You had Edison, they had most of the scientists that discovered modern chemistry and many of the scientific precepts that the modern world is built on.

      These were also the times of hard living, robber barons, Chinese worked to death on the railroads, outlaws, banditry run rife and so on. To say ‘quality of life was improving all the time’ is a somewhat romantic position. Life was cheap, people were used, populations exterminated (the Native Americans) and so on.

      The difference between now and then is that now the US is a massive world power. Now it has a complex military infrastructure, world-award winning universities, a longer lived population, a central role in the world economy and so on as it has essentially inherited the mantle of superpower from the British Empire. It has not done so on the back of libertarian ideals, but rather industrial output and marked ability to collectivised effort.

      By collective effort I mean either government driven or corporate driven. So for example the New Deal. Or the militarisation to fight in the two World Wars. Post-war veteran education. Highway/Freeway building. The nuclear arms race. Space technology. Moon landings. The FDA. Airport safety. Policing and Security. Etc. These are collective projects and partnerships between government and business, not free market enterprise. And they have been at the heart of American success throughout the 20th century.

      All of these sorts of activities and a million others have to be paid for somehow. And yet despite all of them and their scope you still have extraordinarily low taxes, low gas prices and so on. For example the average value added tax in Europe (the equivalent of your sales taxes) is twice what it is in the US. The average income tax is about 10% higher. The average social security style payments are double the US standard also.

      US citizens have the lowest tax burdens of most anywhere. But that also explains partly why the standard of education is so bad, the runaway costs of private healthcare and medication and a variety of other social ills (such as the treatment of prisoners, which is in many cases shocking compared to other countries).

      2. Maybe, but in practise it doesn’t work. There are many smaller countries in the world that have such lighter governments and they usually have either repressive or militaristic regimes unless they are working with the added benefit of being tax havens – and so enjoying disproportionate wealth.

      3. It’s about infrastructure.

      Most reliable studies of 30s economics concur that the two things that solved the Great Depression were home ownership schemes in the US (The New Deal) and the industrial motivation brought about by the second world war. With the economy having tanked so badly and protectionism proving ineffective, 25% unemployment and so on, intervention was the only real solution.

      It is also false to paint it all about simply who has what money in their pockets. More money in your pocket is a good thing, but how is that going to get a road built or a school maintained? How will it pay to fix power lines or build better train lines. Many of these activities are outside the scope or interest of private business.

      A favourite saying of the right is that government does not create jobs. I agree with this. However what is not said is that government creates the conditions for jobs. Governments, for example, stimulate research and development, create legal frameworks and protections and initiate infrastructural projects that help upgrade the nation’s economy and provide for better jobs. So government in France and Japan has created a world beating train network that has enabled many new kinds of industries to flourish. Governments in Britain have created financial frameworks that have enabled London to rival New York as a financial capital. Etc.

      Free markets do not tend to build progressive infrastructure, and that is their flaw. What they tend to do is find ways to maximise infrastructure in ways that were not thought of. That is their strength. A strong society needs both. The USSR obviously was all infrastructure and little freedom, but the the US is almost all freedom but with a failing infrastructure. Certain cities do very well but much of the country is depressed, reliant on agriculture and falling behind on any number of measures.

      4. Working conditions

      Ah but if we’re talking about what unions could have done, that’s essentially an argument for collectivism. Which is a pro-socialist view. Socialism is a valid political philosophy but I suspect it’s not your intent to argue for it.

      The point is not that working conditions would be bad, it’s that they visibly worsened. The Industrial Revolution, built on a philosophy of laissez faire (of which most modern anti-government standpoints such as on this website are the direct inheritor), resulted in all sorts of oppression and injustice. Modern China’s free market reforms are built on similar structures with whole cities essentially operating as mass labour factories of 7 days a week labour and ridiculous hours.

      So, no, it’s proven in many cases that conditions do not naturally rise. Whether an industry is born through subsidy or through active free market activity, companies tend to behave according to the need to either achieve growth or profitability and they actively seek to externalise or minimise every other cost.

      In the case of thought industries (like software, pharmacy, engineering), good working conditions are essential to worker morale and that in turn has a direct effect on bottom line productivity. In the case of labor industries (like manufacturing, mining, waste processing, retail services etc) it’s shown repeatedly that companies pay what they can get away with. The pay and conditions of Wal-Mart have not risen along with its success because there’s no incentive to do so (there are always new available employees), to the extent that they advise employees to register for government assistance and food stamps because they are literally too cheap to do it themselves.

      A labour worker does not operate in the same sphere of choice as a knowledge worker. They are often beholden to their employer, their concerns of morale don’t really matter that much and, ultimately, they are easily replaced. That’s where free market standards drive conditions down, not up.

      Comment by Simon — July 15, 2009 @ 9:51 am | Reply

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