Is today’s government dysfunctional? Of course. But not because it can’t get things done. The problem is that it does so many things that it shouldn’t.
Happiness, prosperity and innovation aren’t gifts from politicians. They are achievements of the free human mind. We need government to protect that freedom. When it instead tramples on individual rights in pursuit of whatever politicians feel is in the public interest, it abandons defined limits and becomes an enemy of freedom and progress.
And yet, as then-Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., said in 2010, “The federal government, yes, can do almost anything in this country.”
The NSA peeks into our phone records at will. The IRS taxes away so much of our income that we effectively work more than a quarter of the year without pay. Social Security and Medicare turn seniors into government dependents.
The Federal Register, which lists federal government regulations, takes up more than 30 feet of bookshelf space, and our ever-growing regulatory regime costs us an estimated $1.5 trillion a year.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department put their antitrust cross hairs on any innovator who has the gall to make large profits. And, of course, there’s Obamacare, which nationalizes one-sixth of our economy.
Does this sound like a government that isn’t doing enough?
The question we need to ask, however, is not whether the government should do more or less, but what should it do.
For our money, that answer has already been supplied by thinkers such as Ayn Rand and the Founding Fathers.
“The sum of good government,” said Thomas Jefferson, is “a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”
This was the philosophy that made America the freest, most prosperous nation in history. If we want a better, brighter future, the key isn’t a more powerful government — but a free market revolution.