Should We Give In to Big Government?

Leading paleoconservative scholar (and personal friend and a major influences on my thinking) Paul Gottfried has an article at The American Conservative arguing that conservatives should throw in the towel on federal spending:

About 10 years ago I wrote an article for Austrian readers explaining that American politicians who say they’ll “get government off our backs” have no intention of keeping that promise. Their real plan is to provide favors for their donors at taxpayers’ expense and with a little luck maybe create a new agency to “help the people.” Moreover, those who vote for politicians inveighing against “big government” usually don’t expect them to reduce the size of government. What they’re voting for are Republicans who are expected to make a certain noise in order to distinguish themselves from Democratic candidates. Those who promise to “get government off your back” can be expected to vote for tax cuts but also for the procurement of more weaponry by the Pentagon, and in the past for expanded immigration in order to provide cheap labor for GOP donors. Saying that “the government is the problem” is music to the ears of many voters. But it hardly obliges the speaker to work toward significantly trimming, let alone rescinding, the existing welfare state.

Unfortunately, impotent or dishonest complaining has become a hallmark of Conservatism Inc., which engages in its own brand of virtue-signaling. Instead of deploring sexism and homophobia, professional conservatives scream against “big government,” which they insist hurts the poor and deprives us of virtue. This is meant to show one’s donors and followers that the speaker is clubbable and perhaps even fit for a post in a “conservative” think tank. One of the few times I ever agreed with a neoconservative is when Irving Kristol addressed the Philadelphia Society 30 years ago and told the audience that they’d better come to terms with the welfare state. Most of the auditors were horrified that anyone at their gathering would make such a statement. They were like European socialists before the First World War, who publicly called for a workers’ revolution but who quietly negotiated for posts in bourgeois governments.

Although I remain appalled by the inexorable advances of the system that Kristol came to celebrate, I remain impressed by how he described reality to inappropriately shocked listeners. Needless to say, if former congressman Ron Paul, for whom I voted more than once for president, had been in the audience and scolded Kristol for his acceptance of big government, his indignation would have been fully justified. But there were few such lions of courage whom I noticed mumbling over Kristol’s comments. And this causes me to ask: Why pretend you’re going to get rid of something that you’ve neither the power nor the will to abolish?

Read the whole piece here.

As much as I respect Professor Gottfried, and as much as I agree with his critique of many conservative politicians and activists there are several flaws with his argument.

First, unless Congress stops increasing spending— and the Federal Reserve stops enabling these policies via easy money and low interest rates— America will face an economic crisis that could dwarf the Great Depression. This could be brought about by a rejection of the dollar as the world reserve currency.

The crisis will also come when spending on entitlements—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid— explode as the baby boomers retire while the neocons and humanities interventionists continue to shovel money at the military-industrial complex.

In these circumstances the government will have no choice but to cut spending. So shouldn’t those of us who know the truth do all we can to make Congress start to cut spending before Congress is forced to by an economic collapse?

Speaking of those who know the truth, today there are more of us than ever. Thanks to Campaign for Liberty Chair Ron Paul there is a large and growing movement determined to limit the size and scope of government in all areas. This movement is secured to curing government spending and ending the two great mistakes of 1913 the Federal Reserve and the income tax.

This movement is also willing to challenge politicians of both parties and is displacing neoconservatism and other forms of big government conservatism as well as left-wing progressivism as the dominant ideology in American public life.

For these reasons, instead of giving up the fight to limit government, we should be doubling down on our efforts. That is why it is so important you renew your support for Campaign for Liberty today.

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