(This is derived from an old essay I wrote for university)
The size of government is an important yet seldom discussed issue. This is a peculiar phenomenon as the size of government is integral to our freedom. When government power is not limited those with power are able to encroach upon the freedoms of the people. However, when the powers of government are limited people are able to live in peace, freedom, and prosperity.
The Age of Enlightenment (c. 1685 – c. 1815) represents a period in history where the principles of the old world were replaced by new ideals. It was during the Enlightenment that the concepts of modern democracy (democracy originated with the Ancient Greeks, albeit in a rather primitive form), liberty, and inalienable rights began to emerge. One of its key concepts, limited government, came about during the High Enlightenment (c. 1730 – 1780). The English philosopher John Locke (1632 – 1704), perhaps the greatest defender of limited government, believed civil power should be derived from individual autonomy and that the separation of powers was necessary to protect people from tyranny.
Limited government works on the idea that governments should have a little interference in people’s lives as possible. Supporters of small government believe that big government destroys human creativity and innovation because. As the Austro-Hungarian philosopher, Friedrich Hayek (1899 – 1992) stated: “the more the state plans, the more difficult planning becomes for the individual”. Numerous supporters of democracy and liberty had held limited government as an important, and necessary, ideal. The American statesmen, founding father, and President, James Madison (1751 – 1836) sought institutions which would limit the scope of government and give more rights to the individual. Similarly, the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser (1930 – 2015) argued that “the power of the state should be limited and contained”.
In no other area is this been clearer than the economy. The economist, Adam Smith (1723 – 1790) argued that regulations on commerce are not only ill-founded but also counter-productive as countries depend on capital accumulation . According to James Madison, guarding persons and property would: “encourage industry by securing the enjoyment of its fruits.” Nations with small governments create their own fortune by allowing the people to participate freely in the marketplace.
Small government makes them master of their own destinies rather than making the government master of them. The people should never forget, as Ronal Reagan put it, “we the people are the driver, the government is the car.” Only small government can continue to survive into the future, only small government can protect the rights of the individual, and only small government celebrates human achievement. This is why small government matters.
- Adam Smith Institute, ‘the Wealth of Nations’: http://www.adamsmith.org/wealth-of-nations. [23/03/2014]
- Australian Greens, ‘the Greens’: http://greens.org.au/. [23/03/2014]
- Australian Greens, ‘the Economy: We Live in a Society, Not an Economy’: http://greens.org.au/economy. [23/03/2014]
- Australian Greens, ‘Standing Up for Small Business’: http://greens.org.au/small-business. [23/03/2014]
- Australian Government, ‘Australian Constitution,: Australian Politics, http://australianpolitics.com/constitution-aus/text [23/03/2014]
- Australian Government, ‘Australia’s System of Government’: Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, https://www.dfat.gov.au/facts/sys_gov.html. [23/03/2014]
- Australian Government, ‘Australian Government Taxation and Spending’: 2011-12 Budget Overview, http://www.budget.gov.au/2011-12/content/overview/html/overview_46.htm. [23/03/2014]
- Moran, ‘Economic Freedom Delivers Results’, Review – Institute of Public Affairs, vol 59, no. 3. 2007.
- Australian Labor Party, ‘Australian Labor Party’: http://www.alp.org.au/. [23/03/2014]
- Australian Labor Party, ‘Labor is for Growth and Opportunity’: Growth and Opportunity, http://www.alp.org.au/growthandopportunity. [23/03/2014]
- Eltham, ‘Size of Government: Big is Not So Bad’: the Drum, http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3912918.html. [23/03/2014]
- Bonner, ‘the Golden Rule: He Who Has the Gold Makes the Rules’: Daily Reckoning Australia, http://www.dailyreckoning.com.au/golden-rule/2008/03/05/. [23/03/2014]
- Bowen, ‘Economic Statement August 2013: Joint Media Release with Senator the Hon Penny Wong Minister for Finance and Deregulation’, Australian Government: the Treasury, http://ministers.treasury.gov.au/DisplayDocs.aspx?doc=pressreleases/2013/016.htm&pageID=003&min=cebb&Year=&DocType. [23/03/2014]
- Cracked, ‘Australian Greens’: http://www.cracked.com/funny-6522-australian-greens/. [23/03/2014]
- Boaz, ‘Remembering Ronald Reagan’: Cato Institute, http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/remembering-ronald-reagan. [23/03/2014]
- M. Cooray, ‘More About Limited Government and the Role of the State’: http://www.ourcivilisation.com/cooray/westdem/chap6.htm. [23/03/2014]
- Western, ‘Big Government is Good for You’: the Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/oct/13/obama-healthcare-economy-socialism [23/03/2014]
- W. Younkins, ‘John Locke’s Limited State’: Le Quebecois Libre, http://www.quebecoislibre.org/06/060219-4.htm. [23/03/2014]
- For Dummies, ‘How the Enlightenment Affected Politics and Government’: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-the-enlightenment-affected-politics-and-govern.html [23/03/2014]
- History, ‘Enlightenment’: http://www.history.com/topics/enlightenment [23/03/2014]
- Indiana University Northwest, ‘Two Enlightenment Philosophes: Montesquieu and Rousseau’: http://www.iun.edu/~hisdcl/h114_2002/enlightenment2.htm. [23/03/2014]
- A. Dorn, ‘the Scope of Government in a Free Society, Cato Journal, vol 32, no.3. 2012. Pp: 1 – 14
- Novak, ‘Small Government Means Better Governance’: the Drum, http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4147992.html. [23/03/2014]
- P. Sommerville, ‘Limited Government, Resistance and Locke’: http://faculty.history.wisc.edu/sommerville/283/283%20session10.htm. [23/03/2014]
- Liberal-National Coalition, ‘the Coalition’s Policy to Increase Employment Participation’: http://lpaweb-static.s3.amazonaws.com/13-08-27%20The%20Coalition%E2%80%99s%20Policy%20to%20Increase%20Employment%20Participation%20-%20policy%20document.pdf. [23/03/2014]
- Liberal Party, ‘Our Plan for Real Action’: https://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan. [23/03/2014]
- Liberal-National Coalition, ‘the Coalition’s Policy for Trade’: http://lpaweb-static.s3.amazonaws.com/Coalition%202013%20Election%20Policy%20%E2%80%93%20Trade%20%E2%80%93%20final.pdf. [23/03/2014]
- Lobao and G. Hooks, ‘Public Employment, Welfare Transfers, and Economic Well-Being across Local Populations: Does a Lean and Mean Government Benefit the Masses?’, Social Forces, vol 82, no. 2. 2003. Pp: 519 – 556
- R. Cima and P. S. Cotter, ‘the Coherence of the Concept of Limited Government’, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management¸ vol. 4. 1985. Pp. 266 – 270
- Baird, ‘The State, Work and Family in Australia’, the International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol 22, no. 18, 2011. Pp: 1 – 14
- New Learning, ‘Ronald Reagan on Small Government’: http://newlearningonline.com/new-learning/chapter-4/ronald-reagan-on-small-government. [23/03/2014]
- Parker, ‘Religion and Politics’, Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, vol 7, no. 1. 2006. Pp: 93 – 115
- Public Interest Institute, ‘A Short History of Economic Theory Classical Economic Theory: From Adam Smith to Jean-Baptiste Say’: http://limitedgovernment.org/ps-12-9-p3.html. [23/03/2014]
- Hollander, ‘John Howard, Economic Liberalism, Social Conservatism, and Australian Federation’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol 53, no. 1. 2008. Pp: 85 – 103
- Kelman, ‘Limited Government: an Incoherent Concept’, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol. 3, no. 1. 1983. Pp. 31 – 44
- Pryce, ‘the Thatcher Years – Political Analysis: Putting the Great Back into Britain?’: Margaret Thatcher: 1925 – 2013, http://www2.granthamtoday.co.uk/gj/site/news/thatcher/analysis.htm. [23/03/2014]
- Dunlop, ‘Small Government Can Equal Big Problems’: the Drum, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-28/dunlop-small-government-can-equal-big-problems/5287718. [23/03/2014]
- US Government, ‘Bill of Rights’: the Charters of Freedom “a New World is at Hand”,http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html. [23/03/2014]
- US Government, ‘Constitution of the United States’: the Chapters of Freedom “a New World is at Hand”, http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html. [23/03/2014]
- Various Authors, ‘Social Issues and Political Psychology’, International Journal of Psychology, vol 47, no. 1. 2012. Pp: 687 – 697
- We the People, ‘Principles, Priorities, and Policies of President Reagan’: Ronald Reagan and Executive Power, http://reagan.civiced.org/lessons/middle-school/principles-priorities-policies-president-reagan. [23/03/2014]
- Voegeli, ‘the Trouble with Limited Government’, Claremont Review of Books¸ vol 7, no. 4. 2007. Pp: 10 – 14.
- W, ‘Size of Government: Brooks and Ryan’s False Choice’: the Economist, http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2010/09/size_government. [23/03/2014]