super-sized, once more…

Ten years ago, in the early days of the Intramuralist, we penned the beginning of this post. I’m fascinated by its continued relevance…

“Everything’s bigger in America. We’ve got the biggest cars. The biggest houses. The biggest companies. The biggest food. And finally, the biggest people. America has now become the fattest nation in the world.”  (From Morgan, in “Super Size Me”)

The fattest nation in the world. I wonder: is bigger always better?

In the wake of prodigious deficit spending, we continue to hear the government convening in order to decipher what new legislation to enact. They speak of which programs to add and where to increase spending. Let me be the first to say, much legislation supports what many consider to be a good program. But question: when do we employ our discernment skills? In other words, when do Democrats and Republicans examine which programs are no longer effective or which do we simply have no resources to fund — even if it’s good? Once a program is funded, does that mean it is subsidized (or super-sized) for life?

The size of our government has increased exponentially under most all current and recent executive and legislative branches. Few laws are rescinded. Hence, our “fat” nation now controls how we park, how we drive, what we drive, what we eat, what we drink, how we behave in public, the level of noise we can make, what drugs are available, what words can be said on television, our guns, our banks, the car manufacturers, interest rates, dairy standards, the animal population, what others can say in regard to our health, what they can say in regard to our character, what must be taught, what must be preserved, what is extinct, how to vote, how to marry, how to own, how to rent, how to buy, how to sell, how to operate a boat, what insurance to obtain, the toll roads, parks, how many can sleep in a hotel room, when and where you can buy alcohol, how much income tax to pay, sales tax, gas tax, real estate tax, personal property tax, estate tax, excise tax, utilities tax, payroll tax, dividends tax, motor oil tax, gift tax, amusements tax, consumption tax, yada yada yada. That looks on the plus size to me. Let us say it differently: our government is big! And that is due to both Democrat and Republican-led efforts. That is due to multiple administrations.

Is this what the Constitution intended?  Big government? Control and influence in as many aspects as elected officials deem necessary? Where will they stop? 

Now ten years later, government continues to be super-sized. 

Such prompts me increased concern as heading into 2020, we witness the public flirtation with socialism. Why? Because Socialism would make government even bigger; hence, we ask: have we forgotten the historic dangers of super-sizing?

Wrote author Robert Tracinski two years ago in response to the younger generations’ belief that socialism is positive as a whole:

“What have they missed that they can believe that? Here’s what they’ve missed: the artificial famine in Ukraine, the Soviet Gulags, the forced deportation of Lithuanians, the persecution of Christians, China’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, the killing fields of Cambodia, North Korea’s horrific prison camps and famines, the systematic impoverishment of Cuba, and now Venezuela’s collapse into starvation and mass-murder…

There’s always someone who insists that it isn’t fair to pin all of these crimes on ‘socialism’ because those examples weren’t really socialism. The only ‘real’ socialism is the warm, fuzzy welfare-statism of a handful of innocuous Western European countries. This is a pretty obvious version of the No True Scotsman fallacy…” 

[“No true Scotsman or appeal to purity is an informal fallacy in which one attempts to protect a universal generalization from counterexamples by changing the definition in an ad hoc fashion to exclude the counterexample… (“no true Scotsman would do such a thing”; i.e., those who perform that action are not part of our group and thus criticism of that action is not criticism of the group.”)

In Pres. Bill Clinton’s 1996 State of the Union address, encouraging a bipartisan approach, he said the following: 

“We know big government does not have all the answers. We know there’s not a program for every problem. We have worked to give the American people a smaller, less bureaucratic government in Washington. And we have to give the American people one that lives within its means. The era of big government is over.” 

With the size and debt of the federal government recently articulated as a significant problem plaguing our country today, I wonder if we’ve forgotten the wisdom in Clinton’s words… and the danger of being so big.