The Cost of Big Government Higher than Dollars and Cents

by Ryan on June 19, 2013

in Culture,Economy,Immigration,International Relations,Politics,Social Agitators,Social Unrest

The Wall Street Journal ran a piece today by Harvard history professor Niall Ferguson called “The Regulated States of America” which looks into the dollars and cents behind the cost of our massive regulatory state and how it impacts our culture.

According to the numbers, the Administrative State (our unelected Fourth Branch of government) costs $1.8 trillion a year, out of a $3.5 trillion government bill — that’s about 12% of GDP!  In the last 10 years alone, the number of rules and regulations issued by each of the 63 government agencies outnumbered bills passed by Congress 223 to 1.  Also, membership in cultural associations (like bowling leagues, church groups, etc.) have dropped substantially over the last few decades — a development Ferguson relates to our increasing dependence on big government.  Maybe.  I personally think other factors are at work.

At the end of the day, Ferguson writes:

Tocqueville also foresaw exactly how this regulatory state would suffocate the spirit of free enterprise: “It rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces [the] nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.”

Luckily, some have noticed — and not just in in America.  Generally, people don’t like feeling the soul-crushing weight of a bloated and mostly unaccountable administrative state.  The Tea Party rallied in DC today to rail on the proposed immigration bill and the abuses by the IRS, etc.  In Brazil, anti-government protests have swelled in recent days, calling for a reduction of government taxes and regulations to help the average Brazilian.  Unlike American Tea Party rallies, there has been some vandalism and limited violence, but each nation takes their own path in their own way.  At the end of the day, Ferguson has a point that big government hurts more than our pockets — it hurts our insides too.

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