Sunday, February 08, 2009

It's the Language!

Pretty good thoughts here from a newbie to the Spectator blog, Joe Carter.

Too often we make the error of using the phrases "small government" and "limited government" as if they were interchangeable. But the modifiers "small" and "limited" are not synonymous for, when applied to governments, one refers to size and the other to function. A governmental body could be large in size and still be limited in function just as it could be unrestricted in function and small in size

Yup. Army has to be BIG. Education should be SMALL.

An even better way to look at it:

Instead of talking about size, perhaps we should be framing the debate in terms of complexity. After all, the problem is not just that government is too big, but that it's too complicated. No one -- not even the people in power -- really understand how the system works or what is going on. This allows us to present a common-sense standard for when the government has become too complex: When the average citizen can't understand what is going on, government has become too complicated....

"You're not dumb, government is too complex," is a winning sentiment. Indeed, this simple framing device is one of the reasons that the flat-tax and FairTax movements (whatever their merits as policy proposals) were able to gain such traction with heartland conservatives. The tax code is harder to understand than quantum physics.

...and he gives the obvious personal examples.

Good "chewy" for thinking.

2 comments:

John Foust said...

"Think about how dumb the average person is. Well, half of them aren't even that smart."

Think it's possible to ask for endless growth without increasing complexity of government?

Shoebox said...

If you think about it, larger government, almost by definition, means more complex....Not all of them will just sit and collect paychecks for doing nothing. Some will actually want to wield their power to gain more!