The Bigger the Government...

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Mar 3, 2014

In every society throughout human history the following relationship has held true: as government grows, human freedom and happiness shrinks. Best selling author, Dennis Prager puts it this way: "The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen." This has been true in Europe for decades and is becoming ever more so in the United States. But it's not the kind of nation, the Founding Fathers had in mind. Can we get back to the principles of liberty and individual responsibility? It's a big challenge. But first we have to recognize the problem.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen. As the government grows, your ability to control your life shrinks. 

  • As government increases, liberty decreases.View Source
  • Expanding government results in higher tax burdens necessary to support larger superstructures, which slowly chip away at private property rights and their ability to keep what they earn.View Source
  • When people get used to turning to the government for help as a first resort rather than a last resort, they tend to become less able to take care of themselves, more entitled, more ungrateful, disdainful of work, and increasingly selfish. The same principle applies to helping others. As the state gets bigger, individuals do less to help their fellows citizens.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the proper size and role of government.View Source
  • Related reading: What's So Bad About Big Government Anyway? – George C. LeefView Source
  • Related reading: The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future – Arthur C. BrooksView Source
  • Related reading: Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph – Dennis PragerView Source

As the government gets bigger, people tend to become less responsible about looking after themselves and their loved ones.

  • When people get used to turning to the government for help as a first resort rather than a last resort, they tend to become less able to take care of themselves, more entitled, more ungrateful, disdainful of work, and increasingly selfish. “The moment one acknowledges that the more one takes care of oneself, the more developed is his or her character, one must acknowledge that a bigger state diminishes its citizens' characters,” writes Dennis Prager.View Source
  • The same principle applies to helping others. “As the state gets bigger, people do less good for their fellow citizens,” states Prager. “After all, why help others if the government will do it for you?”View Source
  • Related reading: Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph – Dennis PragerView Source
  • Related reading: The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future – Arthur C. BrooksView Source
  • Related reading: A Moral Case Against Big Government – Ryan MessmoreView Source

There should be a tax-funded “safety net” for citizens truly unable to help themselves or find help—but it must always be of last resort. 

  • When people get used to turning to the government for help as a first resort rather than a last resort, they become less able to take care of themselves, more entitled, more ungrateful, disdainful of work, and increasingly selfish. “The moment one acknowledges that the more one takes care of oneself, the more developed is his or her character, one must acknowledge that a bigger state diminishes its citizens' characters,” writes conservative author Dennis Prager.View Source
  • The same principle applies to helping others. “As the state gets bigger, people do less good for their fellow citizens,” states Prager. “After all, why help others if the government will do it for you?”View Source
  • Related reading: The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future – Arthur C. BrooksView Source
  • Related reading: A Moral Case Against Big Government – Ryan MessmoreView Source
  • Related reading: Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph – Dennis PragerView Source

The idea and practice of limited government is one of the secrets to America’s unmatched wealth and personal freedom.

  • America has remained a free and opportunity-rich country in large part because of its commitment to limited government. As government increases, liberty decreases.View Source
  • As the government grows, so do regulations and taxes, which chip away at people’s private property rights and their ability to keep the money they earn.View Source
  • Related reading: What's So Bad About Big Government Anyway? – George C. LeefView Source
  • Related reading: The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future – Arthur C. BrooksView Source
  • Related reading: Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph – Dennis PragerView Source

If the genocides of the 20th century taught us anything, it’s that the main threat to personal liberty is big government.

  • As government increases, liberty decreases – as the 20th century demonstrated in dramatic and tragic fashion.View Source
  • As the government grows, so do regulations and taxes, which chip away at people’s private property rights and their ability to keep the money they earn.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the proper size and role of government.View Source
  • Related reading: What's So Bad About Big Government Anyway? – George C. LeefView Source
  • Related reading: The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future – Arthur C. BrooksView Source
  • Related reading: Economics In One Lesson – Henry HazlittView Source
  • Related reading: Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph – Dennis PragerView Source

In 1936, the US Federal Register had 2,620 pages of rules & regs. By 2012, it had 78,961 pages. That’s big government in a nutshell.

  • The number of federal rules and regulations has massively expanded over the last century, jumping from under 3,000 pages in the 1930s to over 70,000 pages by the early 2000s.View Source
  • As the government grows, so do regulations and taxes, which chip away at people’s private property rights and their ability to keep the money they earn.View Source
  • As government increases, liberty decreases – as the 20th century demonstrated in dramatic and tragic fashion.View Source
  • Related reading: What's So Bad About Big Government Anyway? – George C. LeefView Source
  • Related reading: The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future – Arthur C. BrooksView Source
  • Related reading: Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph – Dennis PragerView Source

Americans give 7 times more to charity and volunteer more time helping others compared to Europeans.

  • On average, Americans give 7 times more to charity than European individuals.View Source
  • As America has grown richer, its overall giving has increased over the last 40 years, with a total of $373 billion in charitable giving in 2015 alone.View Source
  • 71% of all American charitable giving in 2015 came from individuals.View Source
  • Interesting statistic: Religious Americans tend to give more charity than secular Americans.View Source
  • Another interesting statistic: States that tend to vote Republican give more to charity than states that tend to vote Democratic.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the impact of big government on moral character.View Source
  • Related reading: The Bigger the Government, the Smaller the Citizen – Dennis PragerView Source
  • Related reading: A Moral Case Against Big Government – Ryan Messmore, Heritage FoundationView Source
  • Related reading: Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph – Dennis PragerView Source

Bigger government means more laws. More laws tend to mean less freedoms. 

  • As the government grows, so do regulations and taxes, which chip away at people’s private property rights and their ability to keep the money they earn.View Source
  • As government increases, liberty decreases – as the 20th century demonstrated in dramatic and tragic fashion.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the proper size and role of government.View Source
  • Related reading: What's So Bad About Big Government Anyway? – George C. LeefView Source
  • Related reading: The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future – Arthur C. BrooksView Source
  • Related reading: Economics In One Lesson – Henry HazlittView Source
  • Related reading: Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph – Dennis PragerView Source

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen. This is one of the most important realizations about society you will ever have. In fact, this understanding is the primary reason for America’s unique success as both a free and affluent society.

Everything gets smaller as the government gets bigger. Liberty gets smaller, individuality gets smaller, goodness gets smaller, and human character gets smaller. This is not a political point on behalf of a political party. It is simply an observable fact. And it’s just common sense.

Now, no one denies that government can and must do certain things. There’s plenty for government to do. It’s the government that must protect us from foreign attacks. That’s why we have armed forces. It’s the government that must protect us from criminals within our country. That’s why we have police. Likewise fire departments and courts are obviously necessary government institutions. And, yes, when all else fails -- private and religious-based charities, families, friends -- then, too, the government must be there to provide a safety net of last resort.  But it must always be “of last resort.” When government is the first resort -- the first place citizens look when they have a problem -- bad things happen. 

As government grows almost everything else begins to disappear. 

The first thing that goes when government gets bigger than it needs to be is goodness. Yes, goodness. As the state gets bigger, people simply do less good for their fellow citizens.  After all, why help others when the government will do it for you?

This is the reason that, as noted by the international non-profit organization, Charities Aid Foundation, and shown in study after study, Americans give more charity and volunteer more time to help others than do Europeans, not to mention just about everybody else in the world.

From the beginning, Americans understood that government must be small and therefore individuals must devote time and money to helping others, as well as non-governmental institutions of goodness, they have to be large and plentiful. 

Europeans, on the other hand, with their philosophy of big government, came to rely on the state to help their fellow citizens -- and even their own family members. 

The second thing that diminishes as the government grows is the character of many of its citizens. Just as taking care of others is a sign of a moral character, so is taking care of oneself. Relying on others to take care of you when you are capable of taking care of yourself is just plain selfish and the very definition of irresponsible.

And it gets worse. The more people come to rely on the state to take care of them, the more they begin to develop a sense of entitlement. A sense of entitlement is the belief that you do not owe others, but that others -- in this case the state and your fellow citizens whose money supports the state -- owe you.

A sense of entitlement creates two other bad character traits: ingratitude and resentment. The more people expect to be given, the less grateful they will be for what they are given. And they get resentful when any of those entitlements are taken away.

The third thing that bigger government diminishes is liberty. This should be obvious. The more government, the more rules. The more rules, the less liberty. In much of Europe, for example, governments tell store owners how many hours they can keep their own stores open. That’s right. In France and Germany, for example, you can’t keep your own store open past a certain hour, and you can’t open your store before a certain hour. 

And in the United States, the Federal Register was 2,620 pages long in 1936. By 2012 it contained 78,961 pages of rules and regulations.

There are, however, some things big government always does increase -- corruption, fraud, and theft. How could it not? Unless you think people are angels, and that political power attracts angels, you know that a lot of people with almost unlimited power and with access to almost unlimited sums of money will abuse those powers.  

So for all these reasons, small government was the vision of the people who founded the United States of America. 

It is the major reason America has given more people more freedom and more opportunity to live a better life than has any other country has.

I’m Dennis Prager.

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