The Myth That Small Government is Good Government

Jonathan Chait contends that the real problem is not “Big Government” but “what you might call Big Small Government.”

“In very different ways, both right and left have exhibited forms of this mental block.”

On the right there is the “axiomatic belief … that bad government equals big government, and big government equals centralized government … This has frequently left conservatives in the odd position of neglecting to tout powerful cases where their anti-government formula has a genuinely useful application.”

“It may seem intuitive that physical proximity makes a government more accountable. This is the image small-­government acolytes conjure when they praise the virtues of local government against the distant capital. But even if it was once true that geographic space inhibited representation … it is certainly no longer. Who do you know more about: your senator or your state legislator? How about your city council member?”

“Left and right alike use small and local as terms of approbation, big and bureaucratic as terms of abuse. None of us is equipped to see that the government that actually oppresses us is that which is closest to us.”

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