Most people who want smaller government are still putting their faith in electing politicians to shrink the size of government. Will you give up this fantasy when you find out that half of the population now gets some form of government benefit?
One of the points I keep making is that most people don’t want individual freedom and personal responsibility. They want a Nanny State to take care of things. To make matters worse, as more and more people get a check of some kind from that Nanny State, they’re happy to support coercion. Their only concern is increasing the amount of money they get, not reducing the size of the Nanny State.
According to U.S. Census data, 48.5 percent of Americans lived in households receiving federal “benefits” of some sort or another in the first quarter of 2010. The numbers are going up as the economy gets worse. So how much support do you really think there is for the sorts of cuts that are necessary to keep the U.S. economy (or the world economy) from collapsing?
We weren’t able to convince them to slash the size of government even before they went on the dole. How much less likely are we to convince them now? Because most people honestly believe that society owes them something — because that’s what politicians have promised them — they’re going to be more likely than ever to support the Nanny State.
There’s a famous quote that’s been wrongly attributed to 18th century British lawyer Alexander Frazer Tytler that actually seems to have been written by a writer in an Oklahoma newspaper in 1951, but the origin doesn’t take away from its wisdom:
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”
I believe we’re already past that tipping point if you take into account all the indirect “benefits” that many people get from government. There’s a core group of about 10 percent who would like a libertarian society. If you include those who would just like to go back to a “limited” coercive government — which would include some who call themselves conservatives — the number is a bit bigger, but still a minority.
So many people who want small government like to talk about “We the People.” What they don’t seem to realize is that “the people” want the Nanny State. They want to be “taken care of.” They want money that they didn’t earn. They want big government. The sooner we accept that — and look for other alternatives — the sooner we’ll quit wasting time and effort on majoritarian political games that we’re going to lose anyway.