Government Expansion In The West And It’s Economic Consequences

Posted on Sun 01/01/2017 by


20090526_Herb_LondonBy Herbert London ~

It is clear based on this stage of political evolution in the West that democracy – to the extent it has meaning – is a form of inclusiveness, expanding the horizons of political participation. On one level it makes sense, why should anyone be denied participation when interests in the aggregate are why we employ the term representative government?

The issue as it has now developed is that extensive political involvement results in economic hazards. A government accountable to the electorate, regulates to satisfy one constituency or another, borrows money for real and perceived needs and debases the soundness of the currency for its own political advantage.

Extension of political involvement also means that a “servile” class of those who do not work, but must be supported, are part of the democratic mosaic. Recognizing the imperfections in a free market, compassion has become a moral anodyne. The moral life, in which virtue is a constraint on certain behavior, retreats before a relativism that abjures judgment. So far in the direction of relativism have we gone that it is freedom that must be defined, not slavery. Freedom once meant the capacity to choose along with facing the consequences of that choice. There are burdens attached to freedom. Now freedom is being able to do what one wants assuming the state accepts you as a member of the servile class.

20090705_debtThere is a price to be paid for the condition. Every western nation is in debt. The U.S. level is about to reach $20 trillion, with liabilities at least three times that sum. Deficits in fiscal budgets are the pattern, with the only question being the level of the deficit. The conditions are dicey but political inclusiveness militates against change. The politics of the era makes change a rhetorical claim, not a realistic policy option. Imagine the consequence of trying to reduce entitlement spending?

Senator Bernie Sanders campaigned on free tuition. The British take great pride in a single payer health care system that has put great strain on national finances. Greece is effectively bankrupt because the state has assumed the role of parent and insurer. Even the once affluent Germany is facing financial hardship in its attempt to incorporate a million migrants into its governmental system.

Moreover, political extension, i.e. new and expanded constituencies, increase a trend towards servility and a decrease in individualism. For the French individualism is confused with egoistic self-interest, a kind of selfish pursuit. In Europe and increasingly in the United States one discusses social justice, not free people bargaining for position. The rights once conferred by a transcendent authority are the rights vouchsafed by government. Security trumps freedom; dependency dominates liberty.

In an effort to protect the growing political constituencies, governments promise to shield their citizens from victimhood, which paradoxically makes everyone a victim. Hence the temptation to protect with “political correctness,” a first cousin of “categorical rights” and to offer a safety net for those incapable of supporting themselves. But charity has morphed into entitlements. Political correctness has become a challenge to free expression and rights. In fact, once designated rights for the individual, have been transmogrified into racial or ethnic rights, individual agency is under siege. At the risk of hyperbole, there is evidence throughout the West of a sycophantic submission to imperial government.

Friedrich Nietzsche noted: “Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” Socrates suggested in Plato’s Gorgias, democratic impulses “pollute the souls” of all who partake in the political process. Since there isn’t a respite from ills and since there are always demands from the constituencies of victims, the cycle of political expansion and economic failure is inevitable. The question is not whether it can be stopped, but whether it can be stalled. Freedom loving people in the West could awaken one day to find that in the effort to address the needs of society through the agency of government, every individual in a democratic society has surrendered his sovereignty to a servile class. Contributing Editor Herbert London is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the President of the London Center for Policy Research. He is the author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America).

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