Friday, April 10, 2009

Why Government Expands

Much is said about the expansion of government from all sides. Some favor large government, some do not.

Largely, it really doesn't matter whether people believe in large government or not, because it will always expand regardless.

Many people are aware that this happens, but are unaware of why. Charges are thrown around of 'power grabs' and 'socialism' etc., but this is not why.

The answer is much simpler and harder to address.

People are elected to 'do something'. For the purposes of this discussion, what they are elected to do is irrellevant. It is the 'do something' itself that matters.

To accomplish any goal, you need to be able to make changes. To make changes, you need power. It is really that simple. Even the ones whose goal is to reduce government need to gain power to make it happen.

No evil motives, no master plan, not even bad judgement.

Just the obvious and unavaoidable end result of the generating circumstances.


(O)CT(O)PUS April 10, 2009 at 11:09 PM  

OMR: For the purposes of this discussion, what they are elected to do is irrellevant. It is the 'do something' itself that matters (…) To accomplish any goal, you need to be able to make changes.

I think this misses a point. In essence, you are making the expansion of government appear as if there is a naturally occurring phenomenon … something like the expansion of the Universe after the big bang. This would be an a priori argument having no cause-and-effect relationship.

In fact, there is a causal relationship: The Economy. During a recession (one might even call this a mini-depression), there are only three possible sources of stimulus: Consumers, business, and the government.

When business lays off workers due to shortfalls in revenue, consumers respond by tightening their belts in fear of losing jobs. Lets look at the current stats: unemployment 8.5% and climbing, economic contraction minus 6.5%, equity markets off 40%, credit markets and the flow of capital at a virtual standstill. Bottom line: consumers and business are in no position to stimulate the economy; hence the stimulus of last resort: The government.

What are the choices? Spend $3+ trillion to stimulate the economy, or lose $3+ trillion in revenue shortfalls. Yes, that’s right. The government will lose $3 trillion one way or the other. Failing to stimulate the economy will only result in a longer and deeper recession, and the choice is grim no matter how one looks at the situation.

Hence this expansion of government is driven by a chain of events and a decision tree, i.e. a posteriori, not some self-evident proposition.

OpenMindedRepublican April 10, 2009 at 11:21 PM  

Octo: In essence, you are making the expansion of government appear as if there is a naturally occurring phenomenon … something like the expansion of the Universe after the big bang.

Exactly correct.

However, you are incorrect in describing this as lacking a cause-effect relationship. The cause is the need to 'do something'. The effect is gathering power to do it.

Right now the economy is driving it. Five years ago it was something else. Five years from now it will be another something else.

This is a bit of a 'forest for the trees' thing. The 'trees' are whatever issue is driving the growth at any one point in time. The 'forest' is the overall pattern of behavior over the life of any governmental entity.

TAO April 11, 2009 at 4:23 AM  

You both are right...

As a conservative I understand and accept the argument that Octopus makes in regards to the economic stimulus package.

Where I have always had issues (and I will acknowledge that the last few months, since September 2008 I have had to rethink a lot of my basic principles) is with conservatives who clamor for smaller government and then this long laundry list of legislation, and funding issues.

They claim to be for fiscal sanity and yet demand increases in military spending and decreases in taxation...

They go on and on about fraud and corruption in various social programs and then paper over fraud and corruption in various other areas of political programs.

That is one of the things that impressed me the most about Barack Obama, he said he was going to change things, he said he was going to spend money, and he said he was going to raise taxes....

In less than 90 days he has pretty much done what he said he was going to do...

TRUTH 101 April 11, 2009 at 1:00 PM  

As a confirmed cynic, I believe w all want smaller government as long as it doesn't affect us. But the reality is we're all on the government dole in some way or another. As long as we're getting our piece of the pie, smaller government for everyone else is wonderful.

Now put your piece together in a way I can use to defeat Republicans. My candidate lost a race to one who said he was going to get millions more for stuff and vote to cut taxes. He told them what they wanted to hear. My guy told the truth.

TAO April 12, 2009 at 5:24 AM  


Now now, being the cynic that you are you need to start counseling your candidates better...

Remember, guns for everyone, jobs and butter for everyone, and lower taxes...along with no gays and no abortion...

Oh, and don't forget the secret list of socialists in Washington...that really works in Alabama.

TRUTH 101 April 12, 2009 at 8:56 AM  

I was on my game till two years ago TAO. I think you're correct. If I'm asked to be involved after this loss it's back to guns, God and Gays.

Didn't mean to hijack your comment section with this OMR. My apologies.

OpenMindedRepublican April 12, 2009 at 2:19 PM  

It's OK, Truth, I like to see what people do with what I say.

I do think it's interesting that noe of the comments really had much to do with what I am trying to say.

I am not sure if I just said it wrong, or if I was too abstract.

TAO April 13, 2009 at 5:12 AM  


Your post on expanding government...

You want to assume that the expansion of government is due to congress needing to justify their existence....

How much of it is due to that and how much of it is due to the President and executive orders?

How much of government expansion is 'PERCEIVED' or that is due to the fact that we have cable news going on 24/7 and how much of it is REAL.

If you look at your personal life, how much do you have to deal with the federal government directly on a day to day basis?

I wonder how much of our complaints about government being involved in our lives is due to actual direct experience and how much of it is due to what we read on the internet and how much we see on television.

Anonymous,  April 13, 2009 at 8:10 AM  

I really would like to see a Republican party that could begin to reconcile some of the mutually exclusive goals/desires that they have. I'm hoping they can return to a more libertarian bent and away from the neoconservative idea of subduing the rest of the world and putting it on the national credit card. I'd vote for TAO if he runs for prez.

Today's GOP seems to have decided to become a blend of the worst of liberalism combined with the worst of conservatism. Actually, much more liberal than conservative. That's why it's such a kick to see people like Coulter, Savage, et al ranting about "liberals."

Anonymous,  April 13, 2009 at 8:12 AM  

TAO/Bacevich 20**?

OpenMindedRepublican April 13, 2009 at 9:42 AM  

TAO - This is not a complaint, nor was I talkimg about the federal government especially.

This is not about what should be, it is about what is.

Just the nature of the beast.

TRUTH 101 April 13, 2009 at 4:50 PM  

I offered to take a few days off long ago to work for TAO if he ran for something. God, guns and gays TAO. I'll get to work Brother.

Sorry OMR. Did it again. I like TAO but mostly as a big government lib, I like big government.

(O)CT(O)PUS April 15, 2009 at 2:12 PM  

OMR, a new post at the Swash Zone that picks up this thread (didn't want to talk behind your back). BTW, I added your link to our list (can't say I don't try to be bipartisan)

OpenMindedRepublican April 15, 2009 at 4:51 PM  

Octo - Always good to see someone else's views on my ideas, (although I still think you are missing my point).

Thanks for the link... I was surprised to fint that I was lacking a link to the Zone here, I was sure I had one from when I first put it up. Maybe it got lost when I redid the template...
Anyways, you are back on my list also.

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