Is big government a good thing or a bad thing?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is really a loaded question, one that cannot be answered objectively.  The real problem here is that people cannot agree on whether a given amount of government is “big.”  Conservatives today might say that our government is “big” while liberals might say that it is not.  I will give arguments for both sides of the question of whether more government is generally a good thing.

Conservatives would say that more government is a bad thing.  They would say that we already have big government and that it is hurting us.  Conservatives say that more government hurts our economy because it creates regulations that kill jobs.  Conservatives say that more government reduces our freedom by passing laws to restrict our ability to do things like riding motorcycles without helmets or buying sugary drinks.  They say that more government saps our desire to do things for ourselves and makes us more dependent on the government.

Liberals disagree.  They say that more government is generally a good thing and that the government is not too big right now.  They say that more government helps our economy by making sure that our infrastructure is not crumbling and by making sure (through welfare programs or food stamps) that more people have enough money to use to buy things.  They say that more government makes us safer and gives us a better quality of life (by making sure that we do not kill ourselves riding motorcycles without helmets or by making sure that we have health care even if we do not have jobs).  They say that more government makes our country fairer and more just by making sure that the rich and powerful do not simply exploit the poor and weak.

There is no way to prove that either of these arguments is correct.  Which one makes more sense to you?

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