David Boaz on the Empty Case for Big Government


The movement for smaller government must really be doing well, considering all the attacks it has generated of late. Journalists decry "austerity" and "slashed" government spending from Athens to Albany. President Barack Obama seems to think he's running against people who wish that (as he put it) "everybody had their own fire service." And now two new books, from a leading Washington pundit and a bevy of elite professors, are bravely standing up for active government in this era of "free-market fundamentalism" and a "radical form of individualism that…denigrates the role of government."

All this while big government has been chugging right along. Federal spending has doubled in the past decade, and the national debt has tripled. The Supreme Court just upheld a vast expansion of federal control over health care. Washington is working overtime to sign up more food stamp recipients, and it has actually taken ownership of such once-proud companies as General Motors and AIG. You'd think big government wouldn't need much of a defense. As David Boaz explains, it's an encouraging sign that its advocates disagree.