A SHORT LOOK
THE USA SPENDING SPREE BY BIG GOVERNMENT
by Mark Steyn
What prevents the "state popular" from declining into a "state
despotic"? As Tocqueville saw it, what mattered was the strength
of the intermediary institutions between the sovereign and the
individual. In France, the revo lution abolished everything, and
subordinated all institutions to the rule of central authority.
The New World was more fortunate: "The principle and lifeblood of
American liberty" was, according to Tocqueville, municipal
Does that distinction still hold? In the twentieth century the
intermediary institutions were belatedly hacked away-not just
self-government at town, county, and state level, but other
independent pillars: church, civic associations, the family.
After the diminution of every intervening institution, very
little stands between the individual and the sovereign, which is
why the latter now assumes the right to insert himself into every
aspect of daily life and why Henrietta Hughes in Fort Myers,
Florida, thinks it entirely normal to beseech the Wizard in the
far-off Emerald City, where the streets are paved with borrowed
green, to do something about her bathroom.
In its debased contemporary sense, liberalism is a universalist
creed. It's why the left dislikes federalism. Federalism means
borders, and borders mean there's always somewhere else to go:
the next town, the next county, the next state. I'm pro-choice
and I vote-with my feet. Universal liberalism would rather deny
you that choice. America has dramatically expanded not just
government generally, but nowhere-else-to-go government in
particular. As Milton Friedman wrote in 1979:
"From the founding of the Republic to 1929, spending by
governments at all levels, federal, state, and local, never
exceeded 12 percent of the national income except in time of
major war, and two-thirds of that was state and local spending.
Federal spending typically amounted to 3 percent or less of the
national income. Since 1933 government spending has never been
less than 20 percent of national income and is now over 40
percent, and two-thirds of that is spending by the federal
government.... By this measure the role of the federal government
in the economy has multiplied roughly tenfold in the past
The object is to reduce and eventually eliminate alternatives -
to subsume everything within the Big Government monopoly.
Statists prefer national one-size-fits-all-and ultimately
planet-wide one-size-fits-all. Borders create the nearest thing
to a free market in government-as the elite well understand when
they seek to avoid the burdens they impose on you. John Kerry, a
Big Tax senator from a Big Tax state, preferred to register his
yacht in Rhode Island to avoid half-a-million bucks in cockamamie
Massachusetts "boat sales and use" tax." This is federalism at
work: states compete, and, when they get as rapacious as the Bay
State, even their own pro-tax princelings start looking for the
Bazillionaire senators will always have workarounds - for their
land, for their yachts, for their health care. You won't.
Meanwhile, they're relaxed about cities and states going broke -
because it's a great pretext for propelling government ever
upward. When California goes bankrupt, the Golden State's woes
will be nationalized and shared with the nation at large: the
feckless must have their irresponsibility rewarded and the
prudent get stuck with the tab. Passing Sacramento's buck to
Washington accelerates the centralizing pull in American politics
and eventually eliminates any advantage to voting with your feet.
It will be as if California and New York have burst their bodices
like two corpulent gin-soaked trollops and rolled over the
fruited plain to rub bellies at the Mississippi. If you're
underneath, it's not going to be fun.
What then are the alternatives? And, if you're a relatively sane,
lightly populated state such as Wyoming or a fiscally viable
powerhouse like Texas, are you prepared to beggar yourself for
the privilege of keeping fifty stars on Old Glory?
THIS IS JUST A SMALL SAMPLE OF A GOVERNMENT GONE MAD
WITH SPENDING AND CONTROL, TO THE TUNE OF DEBT THAT IS
NOW 15 ***TRILLION*** YES THAT IS WITH A "T" - HUGE "T" !!!