Kevin Price
Is less government the best government?
By Kevin Price
March 13, 2011

Let's face it, economies grow and people prosper in spite of government, not because of it. There are things for which the government is necessary. Making sure that the law punishes criminal behavior and that the rules of commerce are the same for everyone. For example, we want to make sure that a pound of a good is the same everywhere so that we know what we are buying. We also want to make sure that people use real money to make purchases. We want people to honor their contracts in all their transactions. Other than things such as an even playing field for those in business, government's role should be very small indeed when it comes to the economy.

More government means, for those in office, more power. Therefore it is the inclination of those in power to try to make government grow. This will make more people dependent on them, will increase their influence, and enhance their ability to stay in power or even run for higher office. Whoever said the courageous politician is the one who bails out or subsidizes, was lying. Real courage comes when politicians simply say "no" to more programs and government agendas.

The Founders of this country clearly understood this, which is why they went to lengths to make the federal government very small, yet very complicated, creating a formula in which the national government would do very little, while the economy and society would accomplish a great deal.

The essential elements of this system included:

  • A government strictly required to do very little. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution limits the federal government (specifically Congress) to 17 specific powers. All of them beneficial to every American, providing special privileges to none (a hallmark of the founders philosophy). People debate and pervert the idea of the "general welfare." Think of the term, "general." By design that means beneficial to all. If it favors one group or person over others, it is no longer in the interest of the "general welfare." In case the politicians didn't get this simple idea, the Founders reinforced their point with the Tenth Amendment, which makes it clear that, if it is not in the Constitution, it is left to the states and the citizens thereof.

  • A very convoluted system of government. Virtually all the European governments have a head of government who represents the legislative branch. So when one party wins more seats than others in legislative elections, the Prime Minister represents that majority party. These governments are designed for government to do more. Our government has a head of government (the President) that is elected separately from the legislative branch. Americans seem to be most happy when the Chief Executive is of a different party from the Legislative branch, because that increases the likelihood that government will accomplish less, making a more stable and predictable environment. Furthermore, our Amendment process (required to change what the government can do) is so daunting, we have only added 27 Amendments in two centuries. This was by design, not accident.

So why does our government behave as though it is not under such restrictions? Why does it go well beyond the 17 powers in Article I? It is because of generations of lawlessness and a nation that has slept. The elections of 2008 were not so much a referendum on the Democrats or Republicans, but on government in general. The American people want less of it and are going to expect more from their elected officials by demanding they do less. 2010 was just the beginning; it should get really interesting in 2012.

© 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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