U.S. Government: Too Small?

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By many measures, our federal government is too small. While it is an article of faith among the politically conservative that “small government” is a cherished ideal; practically speaking, a government that is too small is injurious to the aspirations of all citizens. The guiding principle should not be “the best government is the least government”; it should be that the best government is the government that provides the greatest benefit for the greatest number. As the economy expands over time, as the population increases, the administrative function of the government should grow organically along with the economy; just as that function would grow along with a growing company or corporation. It makes sense that the optimum size of government is a function like the Laffer Curve; too much government stifles productivity and freedom, too little government starves out productivity and protection. It is clearer every day that the government is currently too small.

Consider:

The House of Representatives is understaffed. According to Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, “the number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand…” But in 2019, there are 435 representatives for a population of 325 million. So each representative has 750,000 constituents on average. If each representative splits her time equally between legislative business and constituent outreach, the average time each constituent would get to interface with his representative over the two year term of office would be roughly 30 seconds. Not representative enough..

 

The IRS is understaffed. This is one of the more critical deficiencies since the IRS is a “profit center”; this understaffing hurts the nation’s financial health.

 

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is understaffed. The backlog is currently over half a million applications. This understaffing hurts the nation’s commercial vitality.

 

The Border Patrol is understaffed. This hurts the nation’s security.

 

The Federal Court system is understaffed. This hurts the administration of justice.

 

Other agencies that are understaffed (and, under Trump, particularly in the ranks of management) include the Departments of Interior, Veterans Affairs, and State; the Bureau of Prisons; the EPA; OSHA; and more.

If the effectiveness of our nation’s government continues to erode, a downward spiral could take hold that could turn into a crisis of civil society. That is a preventable outcome if we “invest in the infrastructure” of government.  

Comments

Bill H. Added Mar 11, 2019 - 1:23pm
 
Under Trump, many Government services will remain understaffed, especially in the levels where decisions are made. Remember, it is Trump and only Trump who sets the direction, and everyone is to either sink or swim.
Good government is based on what is best for the people first. This of course has to include the corporations, but decisions should not be made by the corporations or the dictatorial leader alone. Decisions should benefit all, with give and take on both sides. Decisions must include improvement in the quality of life for people, the environment,  increasing prosperity, and making sure that we are a positive part of the world community that is united with the same ideas and united against those who would destroy these ideas. 
Dino Manalis Added Mar 11, 2019 - 1:27pm
 Our government is spread out among federal; state; and local governments.  I wouldn't call that small, but quite bureaucratic and in need of repair, including the Pentagon has become a bloated federal bureaucracy.
Bill H. Added Mar 11, 2019 - 3:51pm
 
Exactly!!
TreeParty Added Mar 11, 2019 - 4:37pm
FacePlant,
   Fast forward 240 years; we don't have a king! We have a  government elected by the people.
   And we have food stamps!
TreeParty Added Mar 11, 2019 - 5:54pm
Thomas Sutrina,
   Your comment deleted for profanity. (Almost deleted for garrulous irrelevance!)
   Try to post again without the profanity, I may consider answering some of your questions. Meanwhile, please try to address the substance of my article and the particulars. Thank you. 
TreeParty Added Mar 11, 2019 - 5:58pm
FacePlant,
   Your comments deleted for untethered insults with no relevant contribution to the discussion. I have allowed your comment above, as you can see. Stick to civil discussion, you're good.
TreeParty Added Mar 11, 2019 - 6:15pm
Dino,
My article is not about state or local government; that's a separate discussion.
And if you want to argue that the Pentagon has become a "bloated federal bureaucracy", take it up with Trump. Many people feel that military defense is the most important task of the federal government, so it will naturally comprise the largest chunk of the budget; and it is a hierarchical "bureaucracy" by it's very nature, right? Notice that I did not include the armed forces in my premise about government; I do not think that the U.S military is one of the divisions of the federal government that is too small. But apparently Trump does think so. I submit that his slashing of many of those important functions that I did name, while growing the military, is part of what is dangerous about the guy as POTUS. Disagree? 
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 11, 2019 - 8:06pm
TreeParty, No other author has deleted what I use the four letter word for 'number TWO' not one for the last month.  I did not do a character assassination.   Simply put you didn't like what I said.  The vast majority of deletions is for significant multiple use of profanity.  A review of everything I have written does not come close to this extreme level, that is at least, 4669 comments and 101 articles.  Your free to check.
 
I said that the socialist ideas your promoting are presented by Thomas Moore in 1516 in the book Utopia.  Radical equalitarianism – is a school of thought that prioritizes equality for all people. Egalitarian doctrines maintain that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status. Egalitarianism is a trend of thought in political philosophy.Wikipedia
 
Socialism and monarchs and Islam all share the same egualitarianism principles which are as old as human society.   We can find in history governments that have leviathan size governments.  What they also share is the creation of misery in those outside of the governing social class,  Classes share equal in fundamental worth or social status.
 
So I ended asking you to tell us how much government is enough, how much taxes is enough, how much poverty is enough, how much sacrifice in goods including food and transportation is enough?  
 
TreeParty curious people want to know, that is about 65% of the population that didn't think much of how much health care was enough for the price Obama Care demanded, since it is a TAX.
TreeParty Added Mar 11, 2019 - 11:42pm
FacePlant,
   Did you not read, or did you not understand my last comment directed to you?!?! I am not obligated here to tolerate comments that are mere insults, with no relevant contribution to the discussion. It seems that you would rather just sling insults and whine about my housekeeping (cleaning up the dirt) without engaging the issue that I raise in my article. You will not be allowed to participate in the discussion if you persist in substituting insults for intelligent discussion. Sorry, dude. Your choice.
TreeParty Added Mar 12, 2019 - 12:39am
Mogg,
   If we are being honest, we will admit that there is no formula in the Constitution for the “right size” for the government. And let us be clear that the opinions of the various founding fathers have no force of law, and little current relevance to what the scope of government should be.
 
   I listed quite a few agencies of government that are understaffed (too small effectively to fulfill their function) spread across all three branches of government; and I note that you did not challenge any of those judgments. Instead, you flopped out a red herring; that I am attacking capitalism and advocating socialism. While I understand your desire to change the subject and demonize the impulse to staff the government adequately, you are failing to see the forest comprised of all those trees. “We the People” do ordain and establish this government to promote the general welfare, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, etc. Sometimes these are things that people cannot do for themselves, especially in a context of accelerating inequality; and in those cases, government action is appropriate to achieve the stated goals of the Constitution.
 
   You would suggest that “grow organically” is code for “metastasize”. It looks like you missed the part of my article where I compared the optimal size of government to the Laffer Curve. I am not arguing that the size of government should grow uncontrollably, like your diction suggests. I am arguing that the role of the federal government in the economy is vital, and must keep pace with (not “outgrow”) the economy to maintain the “greatest good for the greatest number.”  The myth that it is only the blessings of small government that “preserve and sustain” America  is counterfactual . But maybe you would like to try to make that case, like I have made a case that the government is presently too small by showing some of the ways that the understaffing is hurting us.
 
   The right wing canard that there is a whole class of citizens who are primarily motivated by wanting a bunch of “free stuff” is just an insidious hoax. Although with Donald Trump as a poster boy for the “free enterprise” ethic of exploiting the whole planet and everyone in it for maximum self-aggrandizement, it’s no wonder that the low information types are influenced to emulate him. That said, there is a strong
argument to be made that the fruits of our social production are shared inequitably. As you say, the “capitalist economy” needs to be tweaked from time to time. That’s part of the role of government; and under the Trump administration, that role is being abrogated. Shamefully.
TreeParty Added Mar 12, 2019 - 12:42am
FacePlant,
   Please: don't bother with me any further! Since you seem committed to whining and insulting, not much point in participating in the discussion, right?! Buh-bye.
TreeParty Added Mar 12, 2019 - 1:14am
Thomas Sutrina,
Thanks for being civil; that wasn’t so hard, was it?!
   I don’t think I am “promoting socialist ideas”; at least, that inference cannot be reasonably deduced from my article. I do think that social ownership of certain parts of the economy is sensible, but that is not what I am arguing. And if you do not believe in a form of government where “all men are created equal”, well let the record show that!
   I am not arguing for a “leviathan size of government” – go back and read my article. But at the same time, we cannot have anarchy; we cannot survive a government “so small you can smother it in the bathtub.”
 
“So I ended asking you to tell us how much government is enough, how much taxes is enough, how much poverty is enough, how much sacrifice in goods including food and transportation is enough?”
Good questions all. If we start from first principles, we need enough government to ensure the opportunity for all our citizens to have “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”(clean air, clean water, a food supply that is not poisoned, a justice system that is “blind” to wealth and power and guarantees civil rights to all citizens, an education system of last resort, physical infrastructure adequate for commerce, etc. etc.) and to aspire to the achievement of all the goals of the preamble to the Constitution. So then we need enough tax revenue to finance that level of government. I have already hinted at the shortages we are currently experiencing in my original article. It’s a moving target, Thomas. Think of it like a family; wouldn't you want to do what was necessary for the comfortable survival of your family members? Or would you just throw the kid in the pool and let her sink or swim?
 
Cullen Writes Added Mar 12, 2019 - 1:35am
I am not going to lose sleep over this. 
Flying Junior Added Mar 12, 2019 - 4:55am
The Federal Election Commission is definitely understaffed.
 
Guess why Trumpies.
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 12, 2019 - 8:30am
TreeParty, when your repeating what politicians say then your attaching yourself to them.   The Democrat Party today is saying they are Socialists.   This is a central belief of socialism, "equalitarianism – is a school of thought that prioritizes equality for all people. Egalitarian doctrines maintain that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status. Egalitarianism is a trend of thought in political philosophy." target="_blank">Wikipedia  Bigger government is the method used to achieve an equality, to create the barriers in law to separate society into classes, make it very difficult to move between classes, and by force or incentive enforce compliance.  Just look at any Socialist (communist) state.
 
Again I want to know where the limits are to this, "I do think that social ownership of certain parts of the economy is sensible."  Venezuela started small and ended up collapsing the economy.  Cuba is a nation living under a two or maybe three class society where the majority live in equal shared misery.
 
These are not the same, “all men are created equal” and "equality for all people, equal social status, equal wealth."  
 
Your article starts with "federal government is too small"  so tell us your limit to how big government should get.   If for one think we already have a “leviathan size of government.”    Anarchy is NO GOVERNMENT.  There is a huge separation between the two.  
 
OK, "we need enough government to ensure the opportunity for all our citizens to have “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”  then we should reduce the government to the size that Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about in his multi-book series "Democracy in America." 1840  As a European he was in a position to compare the  stratified class based societies that practiced Egalitarianism in each class to a government that was based on not having imposed class structure.  (slavery had not yet ended, it would two decades later, is the exception that came to America on British ship a century and a half earlier.)   He tells the world that America's government was the correct size.
 
The lack of criminal action to investigate the methods use to "transform America" by the Obama administration show that the government is too big already: <<justice system that is “blind” to wealth and power>>
Neil Lock Added Mar 12, 2019 - 1:50pm
Thomas: all humans are equal in fundamental worth.
 
When they're born, yes. But after that, no longer so; it depends how they behave. A really good comment. Thank you, Thomas.
TreeParty Added Mar 12, 2019 - 2:30pm
Face,
   Thoreau - wasn't he that ascetic hippie living by himself out in the woods?! Well, of course he would want "no government"; he was an anarchist!
"Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe -- 'That government is best which governs not at all'; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have."
Big problem is that humans will never be "prepared for it." It is just as hopelessly naïve to believe that humans are "perfectible" enough for anarchy as it is to believe that they are "perfectible" enough for communism.
If you want a taste of what it would be like to live where the government governs not at all, I recommend Somalia. I think you will fit in well there! Or you might try Afghanistan or Sudan, where the federal governments certainly "govern least". You'll have a blast! Literally ;)
As for your scheme for arresting those "public servants who take ONE STEP beyond the powers lawfully delegated to them by the Supreme Law of the Land", I think you should pass that idea by any lawyer or civics teacher you may know to get a sense of how workable it isn't.
And how about listing two or three (of the "many") "powers the SCOTUS has assumed" that the Constitution does not delegate to them, so we can have an idea of what you are talking about...Thanks...
 
 
 
TreeParty Added Mar 12, 2019 - 4:01pm
Thomas,
   You wrote:
“TreeParty, when your repeating what politicians say then your attaching yourself to them.   The Democrat Party today is saying they are Socialists.”
But that claim is false. I would much prefer if you would try to be honest in this discussion. There are a small number of Democrats who identify as Democratic Socialists; but claiming that “the Democrat Party today is saying they are Socialists” is untrue. And I think you know it.
   Your entire distraction about “egalitarianism” is a straw man. I have not argued for “egalitarianism”, so we don’t need to debate that subject. I think we can agree that “all men are created equal” , and that that is a fundamental premise of a democratic form of government. No person should be above the law. No person is entitled to more opportunity in life than anyone else.
   But my interest is in ensuring that our government is “right-sized” to most effectively discharge all the roles we want it to play, as enumerated in the Constitution itself. How big should it be? The government should be big enough that the “right to a speedy and public trial”(Amendment VI) should not take more than a couple of months. The government should be big enough to protect the nation’s air, water, and land resources from poisoning and to ensure that the food supply is not poisoned. The government should be big enough to provide military protection to our citizens, and to serve the needs of our abled and disabled military veterans. The government should be big enough to finance itself, without letting tax cheats escape their obligation to pay the taxes they legally owe. The government should be big enough to manage immigration and border enforcement in a way that is fair to American citizens and to those who would seek to migrate here. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. None of this is “tyranny”; it is, and can be, done with the “consent of the governed.”
Another way to think about this problem is; what is the fraction of the Gross Domestic Product sucked up by the federal government? As of 2018, that fraction was 16.2%. Less than one part in six of all the money we make goes to the federal government; you may call that a “leviathan”; I certainly do not. A “leviathan” would be a government that takes over half the GDP. But we don’t have that.
I don’t know enough about deTocqueville to know if your claim is true that he told the world that America’s government was the “correct size”. I do know that he wrote 180 years ago, when the physical and cultural facts of life in America were very much different than they are today. For that reason alone, I would be loath to pine for the “good old days” of the 1830’s, thanks anyway!
TreeParty Added Mar 12, 2019 - 4:32pm
BH,
   "Anarchy means no rulers; not no rules.." Well, there's a distinction without a difference!
If there are "rules", but no civil authority to enforce them, then there effectively are no rules. I imagine that a vanishingly tiny percentage of citizens would choose anarchy. Mostly just the bullies...
No, we are not "all equal before nature." But all citizens are (or should be) equal before the (civil) law. That's kind of inherent in our form of government, and in all our legal traditions since before we became a nation (notwithstanding the unfortunate aberrations of slavery, lack of women's suffrage, etc.)
So I'm not too clear about what your word salad intends to convey in regards to the "proper size of government". Can you drill down on that and be more clear, just on the size issue? Thanks...
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 12, 2019 - 7:10pm
TreeParty,  I have no idea what TV station you watch but Bernie Sanders is a 'Democratic Socialist'  and the new crop of Democrats in congress are supporting him.  All the candidates for the primary for president are accepting Socialism concepts.   You can not fool anyone with this spin, <<The Democrat Party today is saying they are Socialists.   But that claim is false.”>>   They have move so far left that they can not honestly return to the middle.   
 
The democrat party is facing a situation that radicals have taken control.  Barry Goldwater did the same thing for the GOP.   The DNC 1920 Clan Bake convention created a similar radical swing of the Democrat party.  This the projection from the activity now seen.  And historically the party will swing back but today the radicals are in the drivers seat of the Democrat Party.
 
You have not argued about  “egalitarianism” but you can not deny that it is right out of the socialism hand book.   And it is part of the undercurrent of welfare programs in America that were created by the Democrat party.   
It is the basis for minimum wage, 
It is the basis for gay, women, black, etc. movements that demand equality of outcome. 
It is the bases for quota to enter college and hiring. 
It is the basis for changing the rules for hiring air traffic controllers from proficiency to equal mix of race and gender.  
It is the reason for complaining about the race mix in prison
It is the reason of complaining about blacks being profiled.  (~13% of the population and the male youth commit more then half of the murders and robberies. are the facts that cause the profiling).
 
I have discussed size but your have not told your boundaries for size.  So you really do not want a discussion.   
 
I have put a stake in the ground since you do not seem to want to.  Really start this discussion.  Government should be the size of the one that was presented by Alexis de Tocqueville in his multi-book series "Democracy in America." 1840 
 
A common starting point is a view of the world poverty level and why it changed.  We can discuss why it changed but it is a fact that it has changed.
 
The industrial revolution was just taking hold 1820  There were about 1.1 Billion people on the planet and the upper 10% had all the money. (1.0 Billion in poverty, 90%)    America's had about 40% of the population in poverty.  Italy the only listed for Europe was at 65% of the population in poverty.   ref: https://ourworldindata.org/extreme-poverty
 
Today the world population is about 7 Billion with about 0.8 Billion people living in poverty( about 11% in poverty) where America and Italy and all the western nations listed were about 1% in poverty.  
 
Prior to the industrial revolution the situation was static for centuries.  I can not find any technical reason  that could have prevented an industrial revolution as part of the Renaissance, centuries earlier.   
 
The enlightenment movement started around 1500 with the publication on a new invention movable type printing press.  Martin Luther broke the strangle hold of the Catholic Church control of knowledge and the limits it put on individuals thinking.  Average people he said could interpret the bible that the printing press produced in mass.
 
Prior the leaders of the church and kingdoms were the governing class in the society and the lower class collective were none thinking masses.  Ideas came down from the top.   This is the same theology followed by socialism.  We see it in the creation of laws by bureaucrats in all the western nations, experts know what is best for the citizens.
 
The free market and the capacity of individual to invent new products.  Many failures occurred but sufficient successes also happened.  The Free market evaluated the inventions.  Decisions were not made by a few but by many, spontaneous order is the process of taking what seem to be random decisions and created order.  The planet in 1820 could only support 1.1 Billion people but with technology it now support 7 Billion in a far better living standard.
 
Now I open the floor to other comments and a discussion.  
The Owl Added Mar 12, 2019 - 7:59pm
I'm in the "government is too large" group...firmly.
 
When "government" at any level, wishes to pass legislation and promulgate regulations that achieve nothing more than an increase in fees and taxes, we have a legitimate right to challenge whether or not government is too large.
 
When a government, at any level has more paper to shuffle than there is staff to do the shuffling, wise governors question whether or not all of that "paper" that is being "shuffled" is "paper" necessary for the defense and national tranquility of the country.
 
Yes, there are functions in the government that are understaffed...and there are a whole lot of government employees that give an honest days work for their pay.
 
But there are also those, epitomized by the likes of Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr that reasonably can be considered to being THEIR OWN business rather than the country's.
 
You can go into any government office at any level and find that perhaps as many as 40% are believers in "Deep State" and the inalienable right for "Deep State" to do as they see fit The People be damned.
 
 
Flying Junior Added Mar 13, 2019 - 3:44am
Interesting gambit, Tree.  I must disagree on points.  Firstly, I have no desire to balloon the house of representatives to a larger number to satisfy an ancient equation.  One hundred years of constitutional law has capped membership to 435.  This is a good number.
 
The IRS is understaffed?  What do you want?  More audits?  No thanks.  With increased computer power and most returns filed digitally, I think we can muddle through at current staffing.  Fer Crissake, they just made it into the tax season despite the monster's misguided government shutdown with little difficulty.  Not sure what is your basis for more IRS agents.
 
Not sure whether or not the U.S. Patents and Trademarks offices are understaffed.  Here is a more immediate and pressing problem for as long as the demon, DJT is president.  The Department of Commerce is understaffed and can only hopelessly rail against the tide of U.S. manufacturing concerns that have been hurt by the aluminum and steel tariffs.  Out of 30,000 applications for exemptions from the crippling tariffs, only a few hundred concerns have even received an answer.
 
You and I can agree that Trump has very deliberately understaffed the judicial branch.  Bush started this problem albeit with less malignancy.  An even more pressing problem is understaffing in the State Department.
 
At this point, I"m going to out-republican and out-Reagan even the most staunch supposed conservatives on this site.  As the only true conservative on this site, I'm going to spell it out for you neophytes.
 
Life has too many built-in high costs.  The most obvious is the cost of a decent education.  This does not mean that we filter out children from our higher institutions of learning as did the Russkies.  We make it a priority to provide affordable higher education for native sons and daughters.  Yet it goes much deeper.  We have to look closely at the money-grabbers that seek to rob us all from cradle to grave. 
 
Why must it cost $200-$300 to register a car for up to twelve years or more?  Registering a car is simply keeping track of qualifying details.  $50 tops.  Property tax is another place to look.  People in New Jersey get their taxes raised year after year as the market dictates ever higher valuations on their properties even though they are not for sale.  In California, despite the conservative blessing of Proposition 13, property owners have been deprived of their property due to wildlife interface zone regulations.  One Viet Nam veteran who lived in Julian California never received the first two ro three notices.  Finally the State of California brought in crews to firesafe his property.  He was presented with a bill for thirty thousand dollars which he couldn't pay and lost all of his land.
 
The worst abuse of this system has to do with the bail system of the courts.
 
BTW, loved the article Tree Party.
Flying Junior Added Mar 14, 2019 - 1:39am
I gotta wonder what's going on with the Writer Beat?  It's never been off-line for this long before.
TreeParty Added Mar 14, 2019 - 11:04am
Flying Junior,
   Thanks for the love! I think you are philosophically in agreement with my premise, having pointed out that the FEC is "definitely understaffed." And so is the SEC. And so, I would argue, is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau...
   As to your points:
* The "ancient equation" for the size of the House is the number 435!! Check out the graph of the "Number of Representatives"; notice that it was growing, growing, growing as the size of the nation grew, until 1911, when it was frozen at its current number. So for almost half of the nation's life, the number has been stuck at 435.
"By the 2000s, the U.S. population had more than tripled since the 1911 expansion of the House to its current 435 seats; accordingly, proposals began to be made by (flaming liberal) commentators such as George F. Will, Robert Novak, and Paul Jacob to further increase the size of the House. One such proposal, the Wyoming Rule, calls for adding enough members to Congress to reduce the population of the average Congressional district to the population of the least populous state's smallest district; in 1990, this would have resulted in a total House size of 547." I am in favor of this conservative proposal.
*The IRS is absolutely understaffed. I first read this story in The Atlantic magazine. Read it and weep.
* The U.S Patents and Trademark office is absolutely understaffed. There is a three year backlog; as a result, many patent examinations are perfunctory, leading to a further proliferation of patent applications. It's a downward spiral.
* "The money-grabbers that seek to rob us all from cradle to grave" are by no means concentrated in government. As the physical infrastructure of the nation continues to grow, the costs of maintenance continue to grow - just a fact of life in the 21st century. Moreover, as the economy has grown, the externalized costs that the private sector has foisted on the public have accumulated steadily. Since it is largely left to government to deal with those costs, you would have to expect the size of government to increase to keep up with the scope of the task.  
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 14, 2019 - 2:20pm
TreeParty I see that your not willing to actually have intelligent discussion.  The Federal government in 1840 was ~ less the 5% of GDP compared to today average 36.57%, and you want it bigger so give us a percentage, your stake in the ground.   I picked 1840 because Tocqueville describes what he saw.  As a European he has experience governments similar to socialism.   The enlightenment produce two opposing groups of philosophers.   Those for natural rights and freedom and those for Utopia and leviathan government that actually is regressive in that it promotes class society the same as monarch societies.   
 
In America, Tocqueville saw equality, Properly comprehended- that is, in the context of inalienable rights - and as practiced nowhere else, "America, then, exhibits in her social state an extraordinary phenomenon,  Men are there seen on a greater equality in point of fortune and intellect, or, in other words, more equal in their strength, than in any other country of the world, or in any age of which history has perceived the remembrance."
 
Tocqueville explained, however, that the danger threatening yet motivating most societies is the miscomprehension of equality, resulting in their descent into centralized tyranny. Rather than embracing equality as a condition of natural law and inalienable rights which underline a free and diverse society, equality is misapplied politically in the form of radical egalitarianism and to promote equal social and economic outcomes. "There is, in fact, a manly and lawful passion for equality that incites men to wish all to the  powerful and honored.  This passion tends to elevate the  humble to the rank of the great; but there exist also in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to their own level and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with freedom.  Not that those nations whose social condition is democratic naturally despise liberty; on the contrary, they have an instinctive love of it.  But liberty is not the chief and constant object of their desires; equality is their idol; they make rapid and sudden efforts to obtain liberty and, if they miss their aim, resign themselves to their disappointment; but nothing can satisfy them without equality, and they would rather perish than lose it.  (Volume 1 Page 53,54) Ref: Ameritopia Mark Levin  Threshold Ed. 2012 page 162,163
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 15, 2019 - 8:06am
TreeParty  such crap, " their natural inequalities will multiply almost geometrically, as in England and America in the nineteenth century under laissez-faire."  The actual data doesn't support this.  I Put it in this article above so I will repeat it again.   Argue that laissez-faire was all that bad.  Monarch system of government that existed for centuries and has the same economy as socialist nations.   This is equality of outcome, the desired outcome of socialism.  Centuries of 90% of the population in poverty world wide and about half in those nations moving into the industrial age, laissiz-faire. 
 
The industrial revolution was just taking hold 1820  [this is what people like you say is the start of laissiz-faire] There were about 1.1 Billion people on the planet and the upper 10% had all the money. (1.0 Billion in poverty, 90%)    America's had about 40% of the population in poverty.  Italy the only listed for Europe was at 65% of the population in poverty.   
 
Today the world population is about 7 Billion with about 0.8 Billion people living in poverty( about 11% in poverty) where America and Italy and all the western nations listed were about 1% in poverty.   ref: https://ourworldindata.org/extreme-poverty
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 15, 2019 - 8:13am
Sorry FacePalm I read it too quickly  However I put the data out to show that the free market raises all boats.  Sorry again.
The Burghal Hidage Added Mar 15, 2019 - 8:51am
The remedy to the problems of government is to reduce it and do so in the most radical of fashions. Tree party's lamentation of the shortcomings of resources in various federal departments assumes the premise that the mission if these agencies is even worthy. They are not and this is where our disagreement lies. No point in "drilling down" to the minutia of each of these cases when we are in fundamental disagreement as to whether or not they should even exist. I believe that about 90 % of the federal work farce should be sent packing to find honest work. Of the remaining 10% there is probably half who should be brought to trial and convicted for their crimes against the people. In an ideal world they would be torn limb from limb in the street, but since we are still at least pretending this is a polite society let 'em have their day in court.
TreeParty Added Mar 15, 2019 - 12:45pm
FacePlant,
You are hereby comprehensively banned from commenting on this thread, for gratuitous profanity. You were warned, yet you failed to act like an adult and observe the most basic form of respect and courtesy. (Even while stinking up the place with weak arguments.) Buh bye....
TreeParty Added Mar 15, 2019 - 1:03pm
Burghal Hidage,
   You are hereby quasi-comprehensively banned from commenting on this thread, for the same reasons I banned FacePlant. Gratuitous profanity and untethered insults, for starters. 
   I did leave one post up to show the ridiculousness of your sensibility:
"In an ideal world they would be torn limb from limb in the street, but since we are still at least pretending this is a polite society let 'em have their day in court."
We are not "pretending" this is a polite society; we are insisting that this is a polite society, at least in this thread. If your arguments are of the form of "_____________________ (fill in the blank) should be torn limb from limb", you have nothing of substance to contribute here. You sound like a Nazi, with a completely demented notion of "an ideal world." Nobody should ever be torn limb from limb, for any reason. Do you not like living in a civilized society? Then go the heck someplace else, and leave those of us who like living in a civilized society in peace. And next time your basic rights are under assault, call a hippie, will ya!?
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 15, 2019 - 3:00pm
TreeParty, The Federal government in 1840 was ~ less the 5% of GDP compared to today average 36.57%, and you want it bigger so give us a percentage, your stake in the ground. 
TreeParty Added Mar 15, 2019 - 4:12pm
Thomas,
   This is not the first time you have claimed that the Federal government collects >36% of GDP. My data show that that figure is incorrect; here, here, and here
   Can you cite your evidence for the 36.57%?
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 15, 2019 - 6:21pm
apples and oranges
Your three sources  deal with revenue:
CBO’s Projections of Revenues for the 2018–2028 Period
 
Federal Receipts as Percent of Gross Domestic Product 16.237%  (2018)
 
Total US Government Revenue
 
I was dealing with outlay:
Federal Net Outlays as Percent of Gross Domestic Product  20.037% (2018)  https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FYONGDA188S
 
Government spending in the United States was last recorded at 38.0% of GDP in 2017 . Government Spending To GDP in the United States averaged 37.08% from 1970 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 43.30% in 2009 and a record low of 33.40% in 1973. https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/government-spending-to-gdp
 
Outlay takes into account debt where revenue does not.
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 15, 2019 - 6:26pm
I actually didn't even open the page:   

rel="noopener">https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/government-spending-to-gdp

Government spending in the United States was last recorded at 37.8 percent of GDP in 2016 . Government Spending To Gdp in the United States averaged 36.57 percent from 1970 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 43 percent in 2009 and a record low of 33 percent in 1973. Historical. Data. API. Poll. Forecast. Alerts.
TreeParty Added Mar 16, 2019 - 1:14am
Mogg Tsur,
(Responding to your comment from 5:29 PM on 3/12):
"Questions?"
Yeah. My first question is, have you been drinking?! That last paragraph was about 95% unintelligible! I was kind of following you up to that last paragraph, but then you went sideways. It's like all the words are real words, but the sequence and juxtaposition that you arranged them in made no sense.
That said, I should respond to a couple of your points..
The fact that "the opinions of the various founding fathers have no force of law, and little current relevance to what the scope of government should be" is about as true as anything I could possible write. It may strike you as “disrespectful”; but that does not affect the truth value of the statement. While I do have great respect for the founders, that respect is not encumbered with a slavish (no pun, intended) idolatry of their overweening and vaunted virtue. They were mostly privileged men who lived 250 years ago on a sparsely populated continent, who could not have imagined how the polity and the economy would evolve over the next centuries.
Your subsequent delusional fabrications regarding my view of the judiciary, etc., are highly unfair and unfounded. Remember; I’m the guy arguing for more government!
You may argue that I have “claimed the irrelevance of the limits the Founding Fathers placed on government”; but my claim is more accurately that the limits placed by the Founding Fathers are not relevant to a “modern society”, even if they once were relevant. In the 1780’s, people didn’t want government telling them they couldn’t pour their sewage into the nearest river. Now, we NEED a government that can prevent people from doing that. Understand the concept? The basic framework of government (three mutually balancing branches, etc.) is sound. Insisting that the scope of government NEVER CHANGE over the centuries is NOT sound. I expect that the founders understood that as they incorporated a mechanism for change in the Constitution, and exercised it promptly!
 
You wrote: “Lastly, I will admit I do not read you word for word as your premise discounts what is to follow and skimming your post reveals consistency in what you propose.” Hey Mogg! How about you show a little respect and read what I write “word for word.” I put a lot of thought into these comments, and I would have thought that consistency would be something you should respect. If you are going to engage in the argument, please do me the favor of actually reading my comments. Thanks….
TreeParty Added Mar 16, 2019 - 2:14am
Thomas,
   You have advanced several premises that are clearly wrong.
The first is that there is something preternaturally ideal about the suitability of the size and scope of the U.S. Government in 1840 to today’s conditions. A moment’s reflection should convince a reasonable person that the conditions of life have changed so radically in the last 180 years that almost every institution of civil society, including the government, has changed almost, or fully, beyond recognition, not to mention those institutions that didn’t even exist yet! You are nostalgic for a lost time, Thomas. 1840 was before the Pony Express, for god’s sake! Before electric lights, before automobiles, almost before railroads! There were only half as many states as there are now, with a population of only 17 million, 15% of whom were slaves! There’s no going back, Thomas! In those days, there was no need for a Department of the Interior, an Environmental Protection Agency, an Air Force, an FBI, a CIA, a Department of Homeland Security, NASA, NOAA, FAA, SEC, FCC, etc. etc. If you don’t get the picture, you’re not paying attention..
 
Second is the attribution to me of “egalitarianism” based on no evidence. Despite your tendency to gish galloping in the service of making the flawed case that Democratic initiatives constitute “socialism”, it is important to distinguish between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome; you have not faithfully observed that difference. The programs you list, such as minimum wage, admissions quotas, etc., are not established to insure equality of outcome, but to insure equality of opportunity; and that’s part and parcel of establishing Justice, insuring domestic Tranquility, promoting the general Welfare, etc. If you don’t get the picture, you’re not paying attention.
 
One other thing that is important to point out is that while you may revere the “spontaneous order” created by the “invisible hand” of the free market, to be rational you must also intellectually confront the Tragedy of the Commons which is just as injurious to a “free society” as the spontaneous order is beneficial. In an increasingly crowded world with ever greater and faster threats to the “general Welfare” arising, the government has to regulate the economy to manage the threats to the environment, to the financial system, to people’s civil rights including equality of opportunity, etc.
Doug Plumb Added Mar 16, 2019 - 9:32am
I think so too. I wasn't even going to look at this post until I saw who commented.
TreeParty Added Mar 16, 2019 - 11:07am
Mogg Tsur wrote:
"TreeParty, whether you need it or not, here is my approval of your moderation of your own page. How refreshing to see someone defend the virtues of civility while at the same time allowing that the odd, or for effect rude remark is tolerable to make a point (or to entertain?). Kudos."
No, rude remarks to entertain are not permitted, as you will now notice. Profanity is right out. Childish name calling is likewise not permitted if it comprises the entirety of your comment.  Unsubstantiated or false claims are not welcome, but are not technically prohibited. I don't participate in Writer Beat to satisfy some Beavis and Butthead adolescent snarking. (Maybe some here do; they are welcome to their own threads) 
I thought you were on board with intelligent, civil discourse?!
If you think government is "too big", make the argument then. You have seen my argument that the federal government is too small at the moment, and I think your remarks to the contrary are not very persuasive. 
BTW, it looks like Trump is continuing to hack away at the bureaucracy; FAA is in for a hatchet job. Done any flying lately on a Boeing plane?
Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 16, 2019 - 12:04pm
Done any flying lately on a Boeing plane?
 
I avoid them like the plague and don't need a government in between me and Boeing. I only need common sense. 
 
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 16, 2019 - 12:37pm
Treeparty
The government supports 1000 bases around the world. Why do we need that?
The government has spent somewhere between 4 to 6 Trillion dollars on wars in the ME since 2000. These wars are for the benefit of Israel. That can go.
Bailing out Corporations to the tune of 16 Trillion should not have happened.
maintaining a military presence in Japan, Germany and Korea got to go.
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 16, 2019 - 2:43pm
TreeParty, I have advanced only the view of an observer Tocqueville, that lived in a society much like the one developing in America today.  He visited and saw the one started by the founders that hadn't deviated significantly by 1840. Your placing premises on me that I have not made.
 
America has as you say changed so radically in the past 180 years. I do not question that. But today is not much different as far as government creation of a protected class society and the enforcement of government then France in the early 1800's.
 
Tocqueville a French citizen lived during the many changes in government in France. Unlike America 1840's the French retained a 'class based society' throughout. Tocqueville is comparing a class based society with barriers to insure the 'political, the right one/ wealth class' stays in power. A leviathan size government is needed to man those barriers with laws and special privileges.
 
America founders created government with no government created barriers between classes, or at least minimal, if we exclude slavery.  Economics created classes but anyone to get rich or loose wealth by their ability in the quasi-free-market.
 
Your pointing out the technology advancement but how far has government actually advanced even with those technology advancements? Laws are still written. Representatives still vote. Bureaucrats still create regulations that are actually laws. Laws apply differently depending on politics. Not much has change in the nature of government.  Size for the purpose of redistribution of wealth is the only advancement in government if you are of that mind.
 
Mar 11, 2019 8:06pm "I said that the socialist ideas your promoting are presented by Thomas Moore in 1516 in the book Utopia. Radical equalitarianism. - Egalitarian doctrines maintain that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status. Egalitarianism is a trend of thought in political philosophy.Wikipedia . . . So I ended asking you to tell us how much government is enough?"
 
When government tells people what they must do instead of what they must not do then they are applying egalitarianism. To get food stamps you must due. To be on the receiving end of redistribution of wealth YOU MUST DO xxxxxx.  Bigger government, leviathan size government is needed to do the redistribution of wealth.   I am saying that your promoting socialism by promoting what is valuable to achieve a socialist state.  Government gets bigger to do something and that something are valuable to achieve a socialist state.
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 16, 2019 - 5:02pm
Thomas
Today the world population is about 7 Billion with about 0.8 Billion people living in poverty
Are you kidding me? Out of South Asia's 1.800 billion people, I would say 70% to 80% is really poor. 
Africa's 1.15 Billion I would say the same. 
You can throw North Korea and millions more across Asia and South America into that number. I would comfortably say about 4 billion do not have access to clean drinking water, steady electricity, 3 square meals per day, housing, medical care, etc.
TreeParty Added Mar 16, 2019 - 5:38pm
Mogg Tsur wrote:
"TreeParty, whether you need it or not, here is my approval of your moderation of your own page."
Mogg Tsur wrote:
TreeParty, you are a hypocrite and seek only to have your opinion above all others."
OK, Mogg: hard to know who to believe there....
 
Of course, like everyone else here, I have an exaggerated sense of self importance; but I am a serious person (like your revered Founding Fathers), and am civil and respectful until triggered by childish, gratuitous insults. (Childish, gratuitous insults seem to be the coin of the realm among an unfortunately large cohort of the Beaters; but, as you point out, I have the privilege of forbidding them from hijacking my threads.)
Are you not familiar with Beavis and Butthead?  Good, neither am I. 
From what I hear,
"The series centers on two socially incompetent teenage delinquents and couch potatoes named Beavis and Butthead. They lack evident adult supervision at home and are dimwitted, undereducated and barely literate. Both lack any empathy or moral scruples, even regarding each other. They will usually deem things they encounter as "cool" if they are associated with heavy metal, violence, sex, destruction or the macabre."
Sound like anyone you know on Writer Beat?!?!
 
Now, Mogg:
If you believe that butthead is "arguably profanity", then let's argue. From my perspective, references to any actual body part are NOT profanity unless they are used with purposeful scatological intent. In the context of my comment, "Butthead" is this cartoon character's name and not a personal attack. I can agree that the name does carry a certain scatological intimation; and that is just one more sign of the coarsening of our capitalistic culture that I find very regrettable. So no: call it snobbery if you will, but purposeful rudeness will not be getting a pass on my thread. Why should it?!!? I am not purposefully rude to my family, to my friends, or to random strangers, etc. I always like to judge behaviors on the basis of, how would life be if everyone acted that way? If everyone went around being purposefully rude to everyone, life would be pretty miserable!
Sorry for the distraction; just wanted to clear that up. 
Now; what would Jesus do?! What would the "Founding Fathers" do? Why not aspire to lifting people up instead of aspiring to a culture of insults?  Anyone who can't write a hundred words without including profanity and insults will not be commenting on this thread; no hypocrisy about it...
 
TreeParty Added Mar 16, 2019 - 7:24pm
Burghal Hideage,
   Why am I taking up space inside your head? Do you have some feelings about this subject that you simply cannot express without a torrent of abuse? Gad, man; grow up!
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 16, 2019 - 9:49pm
 Michael B. <<Thomas  Today the world population is about 7 Billion with about 0.8 Billion people living in poverty  Are you kidding me?>>   I did include a reference for that data.  It is a paper that was published and their are more then a dozen other websites that reference the information contained.  I am talking about major groups and media.   
 
Mar 15, 2019 - 8:06am Today the world population is about 7 Billion with about 0.8 Billion people living in poverty( about 11% in poverty) where America and Italy and all the western nations listed were about 1% in poverty.   ref: https://ourworldindata.org/extreme-poverty
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 16, 2019 - 9:52pm
Actual world population is 7.7 Billion.  as of 2019.
Thomas Sutrina Added Mar 16, 2019 - 10:04pm
The important facts is that in 1820 the world population was about 1.1 Billion and 1.0 Billion lived in poverty.  So the population is about seven times then but the poverty level is about the same.
 
The quasi-free market and all those inventions to better the inventors live and wealth, self interest.  The quasi-free market because governments have always had there finger in the economy.  Well then government gaves those inventors enough freedom to create and gather capital to produce better lives.  Clearly all boats were lifted by investing capital. 
 
It is in the self interest of the capitalist to get a return.  And it is in the interest of them to support inventions that customers will purchase.    When the decisions of the market are determined by spontaneous order effect then no one investor, industrialist, or nation can significantly choose what is best. The do have an influence.
 
Communism in the USSR and Venezuela shows the effect of having a significant effect on almost all chooses.    Fascism is socialism with selected control of the market choice.   It balances of how much suppression can be applied without going into a death spiral.  But the economy does not achieve its full capacity.  
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 17, 2019 - 10:15am
Thomas
I did include a reference for that data.  It is a paper that was published and there are more than a dozen other websites that reference the information contained.  I am talking about major groups and media.   
Now I understand. That is due to poor nations like India recalibrating "poverty". New Delhi changed the meaning of "poverty" by claiming 100s of millions really are Lower middle class" because of purchasing parity and not factoring in essentials like:
daily calories, lack of housing or access to clean drinking water, medical facilities. New Delhi even counted people in slums as housed and lower middle class. So the really poor that used to be around 700 to 800 million dropped to 200 million or less. 
No one questions New Delhi, not our media. By this silence, our media (run by that group) maintains abject poverty in India. The only reason that I can think of is the West's need for India' military. It is similar to some degree of China's need for North Korea which allows Pyongyang to starve her people. 
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 17, 2019 - 10:16am
New Delhi even changed the definition of "Literate" to raise that percentage. 
Tamara Wilhite Added Mar 17, 2019 - 5:40pm
You're ignoring the fact that we have state and local governments that are growing, too.
 
Growth of a centralized state undermines democracy, because it removes decision makers from accountability AND the people they are affecting. That's why the EU is failing, too.
TreeParty Added Mar 18, 2019 - 1:46pm
Tamara,
   I am not ignoring the fact that we have state and local governments that are growing. Most of the governmental structures and functions I listed in my original article are not addressed at the state or local level. If I am evaluating apples, I will not be including oranges in the discussion.... 
   The growth of a centralized state is inexorably inevitable in an "ecologically stable" growing economy; otherwise, the atrophication of the regulatory process leads to many pathologies. "Decision makers" are still accountable in a democratic form, even more than "decision makers" are accountable in oligopolies or autocracies. 
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 18, 2019 - 6:30pm
Treeparty
 "Decision makers" are still accountable in a democratic form, even more than "decision makers" are accountable in oligopolies or autocracies. 
We do not have any true Democracies
the more centralized a state becomes the less Democratic it is 
Whatever representation we have do not represent our  voice in DC. Once they are voted in they do as they please and there is no accountability for that. 
TreeParty Added Mar 23, 2019 - 3:46am
Michael,
Last I heard, the number of US bases around the planet was 800, and shrinking.. Probably we “need that” for force projection; but while I agree that we don’t need that many bases, the number is going in the right direction.
I do not disagree that the defense budget is too big, both in terms of treasure wasted on ME wars and bases in friendly countries (that presumably asked for our help). I pledge to work for a reduction in the military budget if you pledge to work for that. Once we have a right-sized military, we can address the problem of the government being too small to accomplish all the other goals we want to achieve…
 
“Bailing out the corporations” is an example of how the government needs to be big enough “not to fail” to cushion the shock of market failure. Almost certainly, increased governmental oversight of the financial industry could have attenuated the liability that ended up imposing itself as a burden on the federal coffers. (Pay me (less) now, or pay me later…) But since the financial markets marched into deep doodoo, had it not been for the government bailout, we might still be in a depression in 2019…]
 
In any event, the tRump administration is starving out funding for the legitimate functions of government , and this will not end well for the country, even if it ends well for the Orange Douche.
 
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 23, 2019 - 10:53am
TreeParty
Last I heard, the number of US bases around the planet was 800, and shrinking..
I have not heard that at all. President Trump intends to increase the role of the military, not decrease it and I have not read of any bases being closed.
We have become a nation that is fighting wars which have nothing to do with us. Since world war 2 we have killed 20 million people in 37 nations (Global Research) No American ever voted for our military to go on a killing spree around the world. 
 
Obama bailed out mega corporations and banks in 2009 and here we are in 2019 with a national debt of 22 trillion dollars of which the household debt is at 13 trillion dollars. we are so much more in debt including student loans, Mortgages, credit cards that the banks have too many bad loans. We are heading for a major crash and this time there is no 'bailout" money. the costly bailout did not work and we should NEVER be a "Corporate Welfare State" or have "Socialism for Corporations". 
 
Max Bouknecht Added Mar 23, 2019 - 11:56am
So let us be honest about student debt.  The cost of college when I graduated was way lower then today even with adjusted costs.  Health care and colleges both for decades have had the highest inflation of prices.  I am not going to say cost because if you get more money then you will find something to spend it on.  
 
So why has the price increased?  We have society saying that a college education is needed and we have high schools ending their trade classes so the demand has gone up.  Law of supply and demand.  Next the amount of money available to students has increased by student loans that are given out so freely.   Obama's administration took over the student loan business, nationalized it and in the process guaranteed the loan by not allowing bankruptcy, like you can not not pay taxes even if you file for bankruptcy.  Student loan through the government is exempted from bankruptcy.  Thus no risk to the companies that act as government agencies to hold the loan.  Anyone can get a student loan and their is no limit on the amount. 
 
Death is the only way you get out of paying back a student loan.   So the cost of college spiraled upwards faster then inflation.
 
Finally the mind on average is fully develop into an adult at 30 and the vast majority of college student are just turning 20 their first year.  They make bad life time decisions.
 
Changes that will fix the problem is to:
 
Allow for bankruptcy,  Thus the lender will be more picky.  and with a drop in demand the cost will not inflate.
 
Have the college co-sign for say 10 to 20% of the loan so they have some skin in the game, a reason to help a student graduate. 
 
Go back to High School trade classes being offered.
 
For those with student loans offer turning the loan into a small few percent increase in income tax. 
Michael B Bagala Added Mar 23, 2019 - 12:28pm
Max
All are good ideas for alternatives to our current Student loan fiasco but most American college students are in the liberal arts, not in pure Sciences. They go to college to get degrees history, literature, sociology etc and then barely can get a job.
The Pure Science departments are usually filled with foreign students mainly from Asia.