Brits are forgetting the evils of big government at their peril

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Big government is back in fashion, at least according to the findings of the latest British Social Attitudes survey, which revealed that 48% of Brits support the policy of “tax more, spend more”, referring of course to Keynesian-style economic policy. Considering the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, this is a very worrying trend. We are already wallowing under the weight of a government that is already too big, and yet we may be on the path of potentially electing a totalitarian to power in five years’ time, partly due to not just the incompetence of Theresa May’s campaign, but also because public attitudes are shifting in favour of government intervention.

To be fair, the free market case hasn’t been doing very well, and I blame the apathy of economic conservatives in Britain, particularly those within the Tory party. They thought that 1989 really was the end of history, and that they had won the argument against socialism so definitively that they didn’t need to argue for free market liberalism anymore. How terribly naive they were, for the war of ideas is never-ending. When Tony Blair won the general election in 1997, this heralded the slow return of big government, and of paternalistic socialism, but instead of arguing against it, the Tories began slipping back into their one-nation ways, to the point where we now have a party whose leader may as well be the leader of Blue Labour.

Of course I can’t entirely blame people for supporting big government. Since the great recession they’ve been taught the lie that free market capitalism is the root of all their problems by socialists who have been waiting impatiently for precisely such a time to occur. I also think it’s the byproduct of inevitable apathy. We had the pleasure of living in a free market society for long enough that we had forgotten what it means to live under big government. We also have a generation that was born after Margaret Thatcher came to power, and thereby having never grown up under post-war consensus policy, meaning they have never experienced what big government looks like, or at least they’ve lived such comfortable lives that they’ve never had to deal with it.

It has once been said that the death of liberty does not happen from outside, but rather it dies slowly, poisoned by apathy and indifference. Though this may sound hyperbolic I assure you that we may well be on that path if something isn’t done. When a government gets too big, it inevitably craves for more power, and that’s when you start seeing your civil liberties stripped away one by one, and they can count on the public not to fight for their liberties because they will be too apathetic to bother, or worse, actively support it because they may feel that it’s “fair and just”.

The sad reality is that there is nothing just about big government. When they raise taxes to make the rich “pay their fair share”, they reduce tax revenue because less people will be able to pay said taxes. Also, half the money raised from corporate tax (which leftists want to raise) is taken out of workers’ wages, so when you raise corporate tax just because it feels good, you’re actually doing good. But hey, you trust big government to look after so what’s the problem? Speaking of that, people also trust the government to provide free health care, but the NHS (which I will talk about in more detail some other time) is currently facing a rapidly increasing financial black hole, and is plagued by poor service and long waiting times. Without privatisation, the NHS is sure collapse, but we can’t even bring up the idea because the NHS has become a sacred cow in British politics. Just goes to show how much we love big government socialism in this country.

I hope that we Brits seriously consider the ramifications of big government. We should be working towards making government smaller if we want to see any positive change in society, because big government is the problem. Today’s economic and social woes can be directly tied to excessive interference from the state in our lives. When it creates more costly regulations aimed at large corporations, it always hurts small business owners the most. When they ban certain drugs for ancillary moralistic reasons, it forces those substances into the black market, which then grows and enriches criminal entities who take advantage of drug-users. Whenever they pass new crime and surveillance laws with the stated intent of protecting the innocent from terrorism, it instead creates fear in the hearts of law-abiding citizens, who in the end will be the biggest victims of such laws.

Big government isn’t your friend. It should be our sworn enemy, and yet a surprising number of Brits are in favour of big government spending, to the point that 40% of them would vote for a Marxist. If big government is back in fashion, then we will have dark times ahead of us, doomed to repeat history because our memory is short.

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Leftists’ trust in government sounds exactly like blind faith in God

big govt

Cartoon by Bob Gorrell

One thing I’ve noticed about people on the left, whether it be the moderate left or the far-left, is that one of their defining attributes is their faith in the state to look after everyone, particularly the poor and the downtrodden. How terribly naive. Big government has been responsible for keeping the poor where they are, giving generous welfare handouts to keep them satisfied and discouraging social mobility in the process. It leeches from ordinary hard-working citizens with high taxes, but hey, the government takes care of us, right?

I find it bizarre and sometimes disturbing that the left, which once championed individual freedom, is the side of the political spectrum that favours a society in which people are dependant on the state. I would have thought that a truly progressive society would see people less dependant on the state, but apparently not. More to the point, it’s disturbingly odd how leftists can maintain their faith in big government despite its repeated failures. Recent history offers many examples of the failures of big government, from the “War on Poverty” to the Great Recession, and yet whenever big government fails, the left blames capitalism and calls for more government controls. Instead of punishing the failures of big government, somehow the left wants to reward this failure.

The problem is that big government has become the left’s new god. Even when leftists disagree on minor details, one of the few doctrines they are united on is that it’s the government’s job to look after people. Leftists have adopted the same kind of blind faith in big government as fundamentalist Christians do in God, and both expect the same level of obeisance from others. For example, leftists seem to believe that government is responsible for deciding what it is morally right or wrong. That sounds a lot like the classic fundie Christian claim that God is responsible for morality. To believe such a thing requires you to have no faith in individuals to decide for themselves what is right and wrong.

In this regard, I think it comes from a generally negative view of human nature. Dennis Prager once said that leftists believe that human nature is fundamentally good, so they believe society is the problem. I think he was wrong on this one, because what I’ve seen from leftists hints that they have a generally poor view of human nature. They seem to have come to the conclusion that mankind is incapable of making “morally correct” choice, and need the state to force them into the right direction. The best opportunity to get a glimpse into their worldview happens during an election or referendum whenever the result doesn’t go their way. They quickly turn their rage towards the “ignorant masses” who voted the right into power, and often denouncing democracy altogether.

Leftists also have such great faith in government that they think it ought to be in charge of everything, from education to banks, from parenting to agriculture, from businesses to healthcare, from cradle to grave. They see the government as the great provider, master of the weather, the divine all-father and all such nonsense. The problem is that the government cannot be trusted to look after us, or to serve our interests, especially when it gets too big. Ever notice that whenever you have to deal with a state-owned service, such as the NHS or the DVLA, you’re usually forced to wait an ungodly amount of time before you’re dealt with, and you have to put up with generally shoddy service. This is because a state-owned corporation doesn’t have to satisfy its customers in order to turn a profit, because such entities get their revenue from your taxes. No matter how badly they perform, you always have to foot the bill for their mere existence. In contrast, private firms, who don’t rely on the taxpayer, have to satisfy their customers, or else they’ll go out of business.

Because leftists want the government to have control over your lives, they despise anything that helps you to be less reliant on the state. Take the traditional, two-parent family model for instance. With two competent and loving parents, children have a better chance at doing well during their education, and growing up into well-adjusted adults who are gainfully employed and go on to get married themselves, and are less likely to live on benefits. Leftists despise this notion of a stable family. They want more people on welfare so they can say that they are the champions of the poor, even though they are the ones whose policies trap them in a vicious circle.

It has been proven by countless academic reports and studies that children who grow up in broken families are more likely to do poorly in education, and less likely to be employed and more likely to live on welfare as a result. They also end up being more likely to become criminals, go to jail, and if they get married, more likely to repeat the cycle of bad parenting as a result. This is a widely known fact, and yet the left denies this, claiming that such facts are offensive to single mothers.

Leftists also despise school choice, because they believe that public schools are the best way to educate your children. This is a system in which children are forced by law to attend an institution in which attempts to program their education according to national curriculum, and in a manner which ignores the individual needs of children, and expects that all children who pass through it come out the same. Public schools aren’t so much schools as they are factories designed to produce human livestock with, ideally, enough qualifications to merit employment in low-level jobs. It is a system that is designed to crush your children’s hopes and dreams, and yet leftists always rush to its defence whenever anyone dares to suggest reform or alternatives. Take grammar schools for example. The only reason leftists are so dismissive of grammar schools is that they don’t like competition.

But why do they turn to the defence of state-owned institutions in spite of their record of failure? It’s because of their cult-like faith in government, which traps them in rose-tinted lens. For their policies to make any sense requires the view that humans are predisposed to altruism, and that the government is beyond corruption. Real life doesn’t pan out that way. Humans are inherently motivated by self-interest, and power is always a corrupting influence. This is why you cannot trust government to look after you, and the people who do trust in government come across as a new kind of priestly caste, with government as the one true God.

Because we cannot trust government to look after us, we must keep it small enough that it performs its basic functions, and not allow it to grow so big that it has control of our very lives. The smaller the government, the more freedom we have in society, and the less corrupt it can get, and the more money you save under it. The bigger the government, the more money you lose under it, the more freedom is stripped away, and the more corrupt it becomes. The believers in big government can ignore reality all they want, but it’s only a matter of time before their beloved state becomes so big and authoritarian that it eventually turns on them, and they will find that their faith has been misplaced.