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Forum Post: Big Government or Small Government?

Posted 12 years ago on Dec. 14, 2011, 5:02 p.m. EST by ImaDreamer (82)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

The role of government is to provide ALL the people with opportunities to lead happy and prosperous lives.

A small, weak government can not provide the masses with the opportunities required for everyone to have an equal chance at success. Nor can small government protect the people from the injustices caused by institutions motivated by profit rather than the common good.

Big government is not the problem. The problem is corruption and inefficiency. The more an honest, efficient government can do to benefit the people, the better.

When it comes down to it, the entire purpose for the dialogue on these pages is to discover the ideas required to design and implement a fair and efficient form of government.

I believe demanding a small government will not in itself provide maximum benefits to the people, and will instead result in more hardships and inequality. What do you think?



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[-] 12 points by stoothman (18) from Des Moines, IA 12 years ago

I believe that the choice between small government and big government is a false choice. What we should be talking about is good government vs bad government. That is what the real problem is in the US. Is it a government for the people or a government for the corporations and 1%.

[-] 4 points by hidden (430) from Los Angeles, CA 12 years ago

When we presented with a choice between small corruption and big corruption,

we should choose no corruption! And then see what we can do better.

Direct democracy = no corruption.

[-] 3 points by BlueRose (1437) 12 years ago

I think it is the gateway to a better society. The 1% wants you to believe the size of government should be small. The NEW TACTIC is, push the idea that "size doesn't matter", push the idea "political ideology doesn't matter". The result is the same to them as voting GOP and weak govt, corporatocracy wins! We need Democrats back in office, and to stop the shameful government spending on military. The GOP purposely racked up a huge debt so that Democrats would have a hard time giving the people what they need for years to come.

[-] 0 points by America921 (161) 12 years ago

First off I am part of the 1% and I will tell you now I am being screwed over by the government. This government is not for anyone. These politicians just care about getting re-elected. That is what wrong with the current government.

[-] 4 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 12 years ago

how about

effective government

[-] 1 points by Windsofchange (1044) 12 years ago

Not this control-freak Government. Check out this commentary.


[-] 1 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 12 years ago

I agree, and toward that end I would rephrase the question:

will we have a government that actually performs its necessary and proper functions.

So we need to define: what are the proper functions of government?

I think it is safe to say that the proper function of government is to provide for the needs of the people in time of emergency -


  • all those in favor of abolishing FEMA are not fit to serve

I think we can go further and say that it is a proper function of government to prevent emergency - hence the need for a variety of regulatory functions and processes.


  • all in favor of blanket deregulation are not fit to serve in government
[-] 1 points by aries (463) from Nutley, NJ 12 years ago

"The role of government is to provide ALL the people with opportunities to lead happy and prosperous lives" This is NOT the role of government. The role of government is to create the CONDITIONS which then we OURSELVES pursue OUR INDIVIDUAL happiness. Government is to uphold the constitution period.

[-] 1 points by AndyJ0hn (129) 12 years ago

there are two things, the government and the state, large government and large bureaucracies requires taking more taxes from productive parts of society and distributing it, first to themselves, then to bureaucrates and then to infrastructure and social programs, the problem is that governments and bureacracies are useless at doing this and get taken over by corruption, nepotism and BS

[-] 1 points by ImaDreamer (82) 12 years ago

In response to the two posts above. First, an opportunity is not a hand out, it is a "condition" where individuals can pursue greater happiness.

As for taking more taxes from the "productive parts of society" one should realize that without the working poor there would be no rich. The owner of a fast food store making a million bucks in profit every year would be broke if the people who did the actual production did not do their jobs. So who are those who are actually the "productive parts of society"?

Whether government is large or small, neither will work if they are corrupt. The objective is to design a government where corruption and inefficiency can be reduced as much as possible, and that government should also benefit ALL the people as much as possible.

[-] 1 points by AndyJ0hn (129) 12 years ago

the people who work ARE the productive parts and should not be paying inflated taxes to useless big corrupt governments and bureaucrates shuffling papers. these people are public servants.

[-] 1 points by Coriolanus (272) 12 years ago

It is the age old battle between freedom and equality. Which do you want more of, freedom or equality? Your answer determines your position on the spectrum of big -- small government.

[-] 1 points by wellhungjury (296) 12 years ago

I can see your point. Like voting for change when we do not know what sort of change is being implied. Change for the sake of change does not necessarily mean it is a good thing. A big or small corrupt government is still a corrupt government. However, if corruption is to continue at some level, it seems that a smaller version of it would be easier to deal with.

[-] 1 points by reckoning (53) 12 years ago

well if you embrace socialism/welfare them yes u like big government ....

If u want a free society/ free markets them u want small government.

[-] 1 points by JoeTheFarmer (2654) 12 years ago

It does not matter if a person or group is Democrat of Republican, left wing or right wing, liberal or conservative, Christian or Muslim, capitalist or socialist… one thing holds true.

Power corrupts and the best way to keep a group in check is to ensure its power is limited.

Money is what gives them power. We need to stop giving the government half of our earnings every year!

[-] 1 points by Windsofchange (1044) 12 years ago

Well, certianly NOT this Government that thinks it is okay for the military to arrest American citizens(with no charges and no trial) and be held indefinitely in an internment camp/center. Also, the under the "UnPatriot act" (it should have an Un before patriot, because it violates our first and fourth amendment rights) your home can be searched with a self written warrant at any time whether you are home or not. Also if you get searched under the Patriot act you can not tell anybody you did get searched--not even your lawyer or family, if you do you will spend five years in jail. Here, listen to the Judge on Freedom Watch, he tells it like it is. http://youtu.be/IvRWjFLvXZI

Sorry, this Government is abusive, big or small, it is corrupt to the core.

[-] 1 points by Misfit138 (172) 12 years ago

You do not need the government to provide opportunity to succeed. Government stifles success by its intrusions and its willingness to subsidize its biggest supporters, regardless of the viability of a firm. As for "institutions motivated by profit rather than the common good", nobody goes into business to go broke.
Your name is quite fitting as reality seems to have eluded you.

[-] 1 points by ImaDreamer (82) 12 years ago

You said - "You do not need the government to provide opportunity to succeed."

Tell that to the 4 million families that have lost their homes to foreclosure recently. It is completely irrational to believe that every one of these homeowners had the opportunity to save their homes but simply chose to live on the streets instead.

When reason conflicts with an ideal, the ideal must be changed.

[-] 0 points by America921 (161) 12 years ago

The question of Small VS. Big government comes down to personal choice. I personally do not want the government to interfere with my life at all. The only reason there is a government is because people give the government the consent to govern in order that each and everyone of us have our rights protected. Now with that comes the question of what is a right and what is not. Obviously there is the Right to Life, The Right to Property all of which are bases for our great nation. At the same time some consider that everyone has a Right to Healthcare, Right to Education, etc, and some do not. So the real question is what rights do you want the government to protect, keeping in mind that the government can also easily take away Rights just as many people claim Corporations do.

I would love to discuss this with anyone, keeping in mind that if you use slander I will ignore you Thank you and may God bless you and this great nation

[-] 1 points by ImaDreamer (82) 12 years ago

As for what is right and what is not, I think this can be defined as everyone having the right to do whatever they please so long as they do not force others to participate in their behavior.

I envision a government based upon four fundamental principles; reason, fairness, freedom and opportunity. It is, of course, impossible to explain the reasoning behind all that in a short response here. But if the purpose of government is to make it possible for everyone to live in peace and prosperity, then it is best if all items of basic necessity were made available at the lowest possible cost. I believe this can be best accomplished by government competing with private enterprise is all areas of basic necessity. In most cases government can provide lower prices because government does not need to make a profit. Education and health care are basic necessities, things that everyone needs. The least expensive way for these things to be provided to everyone is to tax everyone an equal percentage of income and make the services available free to everyone. The alternative is constantly rising prices and tens of millions being left without access to basic necessities, which is what we have now.

[-] 0 points by America921 (161) 12 years ago

See that is were I disagree with you and many other people on the forum. Where you see government as a big body that provides for people, I see it as a small group that exists because I allow it too and so that it can protect my rights. What I'm trying to get at is way too many people in this country are dependent on the government, and their dependence puts burden on others who are completely independent of the government (like myself). Now that I see as unfair, not because I want to see those people suffer, as many would claim I do, but because I do not reap the rewards of my money going to the government.

[-] 1 points by ImaDreamer (82) 12 years ago

That was very well put, and I felt exactly that way for years and years, and so do all the people shouting for extremely limited government now. It sure seems stupid that anyone would WANT the government to take more of their hard earned money.

And then one day you wake up and have no job, and because no one in the private sector is hiring you and your family are living on the street. Or you have a job that pays enough to just get by with maybe $100 a month to spend on little pleasures like seeing a movie or going out to eat, and some dentist tells you to fork out $1,800 to fix one tooth or go around looking like total loser for the rest of your life. Or the bank doubles the interest rate on your credit card because there is no government regulation to stop them from doing that and you can no longer pay your bills, so all your credit goes down the tube. Having bad credit makes it even harder to find a job. 4 million American families have recently seen their homes go into foreclosure, straight to the bankers -- because the private sector couldn't provide decent people with an opportunity to work. I could go on and on.

Nope. I don't want to pay any more taxes than I have to. But if government provided jobs rather than welfare and unemployment, there would be no unemployment. If government made health care available to everyone free, they could control prices and we'd pay less in taxes for health care than we pay for private health care now. The rest of the industrialized world already has free health care - and better quality heath care (we're rated 17th.) It works the same way with education. I could go on and on.

You seem like a reasonable person to me, and I think you summed things up well when you said, "I do not reap the rewards of my money going to the government." That's the situation we need to change. If we paid an extra $1,000 a year in taxes but received $2,000 in cost savings over the way things are now, that would be a very good thing.

So the way I see it, the problem is not big government, it is corruption and inefficiency in government. The problem is government that doesn't deliver enough bang for the buck.

[-] 0 points by newjustice22 (49) 12 years ago

The bigger the government the more corrupt it is. Look at china and russia for example big government always bring corruption thats why the founders told us to keep it small. The smaller the government the more power the people have over it.

[-] -1 points by ImaDreamer (82) 12 years ago

Government is not corrupt because it is large, but because it is corrupted.

[-] 2 points by newjustice22 (49) 12 years ago

Corruption is symptom of big government because it has so much power that natural corrupt people want to be in government because of that power. Thats why you want small government because if a corrupt person gets in which will happen its human nature. They won't have enough power to effect you. But if its big gov they can rock your world.

[-] 0 points by ImaDreamer (82) 12 years ago

That may be the case now, but a new form of government can be designed so the people are able to remove anyone from government at anytime if that person appears to be corrupt, or for any other reason.

[-] 2 points by newjustice22 (49) 12 years ago

Than you want to senate to have the power they use to have that how the senate use to be when the government was smaller.

[-] -1 points by voluntaryist (5) 12 years ago

How about a violent versus non-violent government? That is the difference between a good and bad government. A government that can coerce individuals against their will through taxation and regulation is evil, whether small or big.

Democracy is a coercive form of government. 49% can be forced against their will.

Ask yourself, what is the government doing well? What makes government corrupt? The government is corrupt when an individual has to submit to its authority despite not wanting to. There is no government that can escape corruption. Always individuals will have competing desires. No government can please all. The best is no government, at least no government that one has to associate with. A voluntary government is ok.

[-] 1 points by ImaDreamer (82) 12 years ago

A government becomes corrupt when individuals have power rather than the people. Without government ONLY individuals have power and corruption is total. We can elect managers to run daily operations but fire anyone at anytime by public vote if we set things up that way. That would enable the people to remove corrupt individuals from government.

[-] 1 points by voluntaryist (5) 12 years ago

You have to follow your logic to its conclusion. If, as you say, all individuals are corrupt, or greedy, ie looking out for their interests first, then there is no one you can trust to act selflessly in government. Even if only some people are greedy, which is not true, because everyone has self-interest, where do you think they would want to go in a coercive system, which is the definition of centralized government? A corrupt person wants most to be in government. Corruption is not manageable, except by accepting that people are corrupt, ie self-interested, and having as much freedom as possible from allowing such individuals to have power over me. I don't want power over you, and you are corrupt, thinking you could be wise enough to manage people against their will. I won't accept your authority or anyone who thinks they could know my self-interest better than me. I know that I cannot know what is best for someone else. I have to communicate with them individually and respect their authority over their own self.

[-] 1 points by ImaDreamer (82) 12 years ago

I didn't say all people are corrupt. Nor do I agree that all people are greedy.

I will agree that we are all self interested. Part of my self interest is wanting to live in a world of peace and prosperity for all, so I don't have to worry about wars, theft, violence and injustice as much as I do now. It is in my personal self-interest to live in a world where the people have an established means of eliminating corruption when it happens.

No one is "selfless" because we all do whatever we do to fulfill our own values, to get what we want, even when we want to act "selflessly." But there are many people whose self-interest is aligned with the interest of the masses, because what they WANT as individuals is to live in a fair and reasonable society. The occupy movement is filled with such people.

What you want is freedom, and we should all have the freedom to do whatever we please so long as we don't force anyone else to participate in our behavior.

Only a government where power truly lays with the people, not anarchy, can insure the greedy and self-righteous don't take away our freedoms.

[-] 1 points by voluntaryist (5) 12 years ago

I agree with your points on self-interest, and in not forcing anyone to participate in behavior against their will.

If you believe that no one should be forced to act against their will, then how can you believe in government where forcing behavior upon people is the definition? I don't think you understand what anarchy is based on your statements. Anarchy does not mean no organization. Anarchy means literally without a ruler, meaning no coercive organization. The only force that exists in anarchy is ostracism, meaning the freedom to stop associating with someone. You have to explain how government can avoid any coercion.

[-] 1 points by ImaDreamer (82) 12 years ago

The ideal of anarchy is everyone having the freedom to do whatever they please, period. This means it is OK to treat others unfairly, with the only punishment being that you no longer hang out with the guy who raped and murdered your family, or you don't buy gasoline from the only oil company left because they killed off the owners of the competing companies, so your car becomes useless.

Now consider the idea that people have the freedom to do whatever they please so long as they don't force others to participate against their will. This requires a government supported by the people who are willing to accept this limitation on otherwise absolute freedom. The only people who would be coerced would be those who were unfair to others. Without a system to promote fairness there would be no fairness. Without fairness you end up with the few controlling the masses, which is what we have now. The problem isn't government, it is government which isn't fair to everyone.

[-] -1 points by newjustice22 (49) 12 years ago

To make it simple the smaller the government the smaller the corruption. When we had small government senators used to shake in their boots when they saw the american people. Now they look at us like they are the masters.

[-] 1 points by Rabart (13) 12 years ago

I wonder when that was? Wasn't that before cell phones and the internet , what was population of the country then? They did not even have television, so senators used to take whistle stop trips around the country on trains to meet people. that certainly was the good old days. The income inequality was not nearly as big as it is now.

[-] 1 points by newjustice22 (49) 12 years ago

early 1900s

[-] 1 points by newjustice22 (49) 12 years ago

the FBI didn't even have guns

[-] -1 points by KingVegetax (51) 12 years ago

I think that the bigger our gov't has gotten the worse our society has gotten. Pretty sure if ya look at were our children ranked in the world 40 years ago as compared to today you would see a huge difference. And that's just 1 example

[-] 0 points by ImaDreamer (82) 12 years ago

The problem wasn't caused by government becoming bigger, but because it became more corrupt.

[-] 3 points by KingVegetax (51) 12 years ago

And the bigger the gov't is the more hands are involved the less ability you have for oversight. It's easier to watch 5 people then 100 right?

[-] 0 points by ImaDreamer (82) 12 years ago

The idea is to design a system of government that is honest and efficient. Do you think 5 guys with an oil drill can produce gasoline as efficiently as Exxon-Mobil with hundreds of thousands of employees. It's not the size of government, it's how well government operates.

[-] -3 points by D7ame2Uv (116) 12 years ago

As small as possible, and without the ability to confer special privileges on anyone.