Kevin Price
The virtues of limited government
By Kevin Price
January 2, 2011

What a mess...the national debt is growing at a faster pace annually than what it took to reach in over 180 years. Unemployment is at a level we have not seen since the 1970s and the prospects of it getting better any time soon are slim, at best. The federal government is pumping worthless money into the supply in an effort to avoid increased taxes, which is lowering the value of all money in the economy. It isn't a tax on our money, per se, but a tax on the value of our money, which has a similar impact.

Our current economic situation makes a persuasive case, in my opinion, for a much smaller government.

  • Smaller governments are easier to keep accountable. The more government spends, the harder it is to monitor the effectiveness of its programs or its integrity as far as the fiscal bottom line

  • Smaller governments have fewer demands on a country's financial resources. This means that people (including those who create jobs) have more resources to spend on a robust and growing economy.

  • Smaller governments tend to regulate in more cost effective ways and with more restraint, adding to economic growth and prosperity.

  • Smaller governments tend to limit its role to protector and not provider. Literally only doing those things that government can exclusively do.

So how do you get a "smaller government?" Ludwig von Mises argued in his classic book, Bureaucracy that it is the natural inclination of government to grow bigger. Government is about power, so the bigger the government, the greater the power. Unless there are very specific restraints on what government can do, any cuts in government spending will be short lived at best.

The founders of the United States clearly understood this phenomenon. They represented the interests of the state governments when they created this republic and were adamant that the national government remain weak and small while the real power was with the individual states. For example, Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution limits the federal government to 17 specific powers and the Tenth Amendment makes it clear that if it is not in the Constitution, it would be left to the states and the citizens thereof. None of these are very interesting and are limited by design, such as post offices and post roads, standard weights and measures, and protecting intellectual property. The only area of danger was its ability to coin money, but with a very small government, there was no real problem there as long as government did what it was suppose to do.

The other part of the formula was the state governments. Although the states had all the many other powers not listed in the US Constitution, they were limited by a concept that benefits governments as well as business — competition. All the states had to be reasonable in their scope, taxation, and regulations or risk their citizens and businesses taking flight to other states in order to enjoy more freedom. With the dispersion of power among the states, individuals enjoyed the freedom to work, freedom to save, and the freedom to thrive. Even in the 21st century, with the national government's pervasive role in virtually every aspect of the economy, we still see massive migrations from some states to others, because some still enjoy a higher level of freedom than others.

The 2010 elections have focused significantly on the problem of a government out of control. The Democrats are reeling after years of blatant theft and prolific spending. The GOP, on the other hand, reminds many of the bratty tattle tells who sits there and criticizes his sibling, while involved in stealing of their own. We are assured that it is not at the same level as the Democrats. The American people are tired of hearing of the possibility of a reduction of government, but never seeing it materialize. Furthermore, they won't, because it is the inclination to get bigger. The only hope for restoring limited government is to demand that our elected officials take their oath of office — to defend the US Constitution — seriously. It then becomes the voter responsibility to diligently watch those who govern.

© Kevin Price


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Kevin Price

Kevin Price is Publisher and Editor in Chief of

His background is eclectic and includes years of experience in both business and public policy, as well as two decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He was an aide to U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey (R-NH) and later went on to work in policy areas with some of the nation's leading think tanks including the National Center for Public Policy Research and was part of the Heritage Foundation's Annual Guide to Public Policy Experts... (more)


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