Small government is a "false idol"

By Terry Hansen, Hales Corners WI

A common criticism of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda has been from the perspective of limiting the size of government. The best response I've seen to this position is from Brink Lindsey, Vice President of the Niskanen Center, in his thought-provoking essay, "What the Pandemic Revealed":

"For those of us who continue to believe in the indispensability of a critical stance toward government power, the task before us is one of intellectual reconstruction. We must reject minimal government as the organizing principle of policy reform. Making or keeping government as small as possible is an ideological fixation, not a sound principle of good governance. Small government is a false idol, and it is time we smash it. In its place, we should erect effective government as the goal that guides the development and evaluation of public policy. For maxims, we can look to America’s greatest statesman. “The legitimate object of government,” wrote Abraham Lincoln, “is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves—in their separate, and individual capacities.”

I strongly recommend reading Lindsey's insightful paper, "State Capacity: What Is It, How We Lost It, And How To Get It Back."

Terry Hansen

Hales Corners, WI 53130


Brink Lindsey bio

What the Pandemic Revealed (paragraph 26)

State Capacity: What Is It, How We Lost It, And How To Get It Back

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