The modern-day, limited-government movement has been co-opted. The conservatives have failed in their effort to shrink the size of government. There has not been, nor will there soon be, a conservative revolution in Washington. Political party control of the federal government has changed, but the inexorable growth in the size and scope of government has continued unabated. The liberal arguments for limited government in personal affairs and foreign military adventurism were never seriously considered as part of this revolution.
Since the change of the political party in charge has not made a difference, who’s really in charge? If the particular party in power makes little difference, whose policy is it that permits expanded government programs, increased spending, huge deficits, nation building and the pervasive invasion of our privacy, with fewer Fourth Amendment protections than ever before?
Someone is responsible, and it’s important that those of us who love liberty, and resent big-brother government, identify the philosophic supporters who have the most to say about the direction our country is going. If they’re wrong – and I believe they are – we need to show it, alert the American people, and offer a more positive approach to government. However, this depends on whether the American people desire to live in a free society and reject the dangerous notion that we need a strong central government to take care of us from the cradle to the grave. Do the American people really believe it’s the government’s responsibility to make us morally better and economically equal? Do we have a responsibility to police the world, while imposing our vision of good government on everyone else in the world with some form of utopian nation building? If not, and the enemies of liberty are exposed and rejected, then it behooves us to present an alternative philosophy that is morally superior and economically sound and provides a guide to world affairs to enhance peace and commerce.
One thing is certain: conservatives who worked and voted for less government in the Reagan years and welcomed the takeover of the U.S. Congress and the presidency in the 1990s and early 2000s were deceived. Soon they will realize that the goal of limited government has been dashed and that their views no longer matter.
The so-called conservative revolution of the past two decades has given us massive growth in government size, spending and regulations. Deficits are exploding and the national debt is now rising at greater than a half-trillion dollars per year. Taxes do not go down – even if we vote to lower them. They can’t, as long as spending is increased, since all spending must be paid for one way or another. Both Presidents Reagan and the elder George Bush raised taxes directly. With this administration, so far, direct taxes have been reduced – and they certainly should have been – but it means little if spending increases and deficits rise.
When taxes are not raised to accommodate higher spending, the bills must be paid by either borrowing or “printing” new money. This is one reason why we conveniently have a generous Federal Reserve chairman who is willing to accommodate the Congress. With borrowing and inflating, the “tax” is delayed and distributed in a way that makes it difficult for those paying the tax to identify it. For instance, future generations, or those on fixed incomes who suffer from rising prices, and those who lose jobs – they certainly feel the consequences of economic dislocations that this process causes. Government spending is always a “tax” burden on the American people and is never equally or fairly distributed. The poor and low-middle income workers always suffer the most from the deceitful tax of inflation and borrowing.
Many present-day conservatives, who generally argue for less government and supported the Reagan/Gingrich/Bush takeover of the federal government, are now justifiably disillusioned. Although not a monolithic group, they wanted to shrink the size of government.
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