November 1, 2012 by David K. Sutton
How Big A Government Do We Need?
Republicans talk about the size of government as if it can be measured against some predefined scale. They talk about big government but they don’t define how you measure the size of government. They say if government is big than freedom is small. But who makes these rules? If Republicans want us to believe that there is a proper size to government and any larger than that is a threat to freedom, shouldn’t they bare the burden of proof?
How big a government do we need? Turns out that’s the wrong question. There is no measurement of government that will indicate when government is the right size. The better question is, how effective a government do we want? Even if only anecdotally, we can gauge whether government is effective.
From MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, 11/01/2012 —
Lawrence O’Donnell: How big a government does a big country need? How big a government does a big island like Staten Island need when it’s under water tonight? It needs a bigger government than New York City and New York State. It needs the American government in there.
Chris Hayes: And one of the amazing things when you are talking about this battle over the size of government is that New York City has a lot of government. It’s got several layers of government. You get taxed at every layer. There’s a huge bureaucracy, there’s something like sixty departments in the city — I saw the mayor [Michael Bloomberg] speak the other day, he was talking about the different department heads. — And the fact of the matter is the irony, the great irony of New York City is that all this government also produces a place with a lot of freedom. I mean, when you talk to people who live in New York, they’re not mired in some dreary, gray-toned socialist landscape. New York is an incredibly free place in many ways, and it just shows those two visions are not incompatible.
Is government able to secure our borders from invasion? Is government able to provide a safety net for senior citizens? Is government able to respond with aid during a natural disaster? All of these things can be measured and gauged both in data and in observation. But how big does government need to get to be able to deliver these services and security? There is not an answer to this question. Instead we must demand accountability from our government agencies and our elected officials. It’s a waste of time to have arguments over the size of government when we should instead invest our resources into making government work better.