How Much Government is too much?

May 25, 2009

I'm increasingly concerned by the direct or indirect government control over private enterprises. Over the last several decades the federal government has experienced insidious growth. Some may scoff at the suggestion. But, do we have a system of government that:

A. has a centralized authority that enforces stringent socioeconomic controls over the private sector, or

B. owns and controls of the means of production and redistributes the wealth to the masses, or

C. encourages the private ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods and services?

While you ponder the question, consider that decades ago the U.S. government took over the control of passenger rail service. The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, (Amtrak) is a government-owned corporation. Despite the promise of becoming self-sufficient, Amtrak continues to be heavily subsidized by the U.S government. After decades of subsidies, Amtrak has proven to be incapable of operating as a business and has been described as a "mobile money-burning machine."

Now consider Social Security (a government controlled retirement program), Medicare (a government controlled health insurance program for seniors and others that meet special criteria), Medicaid (a means-tested government run health program for eligible individuals and families) and SCHIP (a government program that provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children). All of these government programs compete with the private sector and are insolvant and are dependent on government subsidies to survive.

If controlling rail passenger service, retirement, senior medical care, and health care insurance for selected individuals and children isn't enough; the government now has controlling interest in two of the country's auto companys and many banks and investment firms. The federal government also controls the K-12 education process which we have seen spiral downward and through the EPA, the federal government controls access and use of your land, water and air. But the government's intrusion into the private sector isn't over. Currently there are plans to take over the financing of college tuition, taking total control of health industry, controlling speech on talk radio, taking total control of the energy industry through a cap and trade scheme and Congress has even stuck its nose into college and pro sports.

I originally asked if our system of government was A-Fascist, B-Socialist, or C-Capitalist. Actually the answer is none of the above.

Under Fascism individuals did not have the right to use their property as they saw fit, government decided what was good for the country. Our system of government has not succumbed to Fascism, yet, because the government controls haven't infested all business sectors

Under Socialism, Marx and Lenin had envisioned a government which owned all property, controlled all aspects of the economy, and redistributed the wealth. Our system of government is not Socialist, yet, because the government doesn't actually own all of the means of production.

And it certainly isn't free market Capitalism since the government has intruded into many sectors of the free market.

It is disturbing that we are slipping away from a free market economy to a Frankenstein combination of all three economic systems. Unfortunately the Fascist and Socialist influence is beginning to smother the free market. Rather than promoting expansion of the free market economic base, the government is pursuing the Fascist/Socialist models. The federal government is picking business winners and losers, threatening investors, firing CEOs, voiding legal contracts, in a manner that would make Hugo Chavez proud.

American's founders envisioned a country based on individual freedoms and limited government, not situational freedom and a large centralized government. Lord Acton warned that absolute power corrupts absolutely. As our government transforms, Lord Acton will be proven correct.

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Copyright ©2009 Jack Ward