The current size of government is an embarrassment and both sides are to blame. Charles Murray details how today’s government bears no resemblance to what the Founders intended it to be.
The common understanding of the limited role of government that united the Founders, including Hamilton, [is] now held only by a small minority of Americans, who are considered to be on the fringe of American politics. The Founders retain their historic stature, with both liberals and conservatives quoting snippets of their writings and arguing that the Founders would be on their side if they were alive today. But as a matter of historical accuracy, it cannot be argued that the Founders’ views of the proper scope of government bear any resemblance to the platforms of either the Democratic or the Republican parties.
The expansion of government can be measured in many ways, from the number of people who work for the government to the number of laws and regulations that have to be obeyed. But perhaps the simplest measure of the movement away from the Founders’ conception of limited government is the monetary size of government. Except for wartime, the federal government never spent more than 4 percent of GDP in any of the 140 years from the founding until 1931. As of 2011, the government spent about 25 percent of GDP.
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