Limited Government in the Information Age

I believe that government has a legitimate role in any society, and a believe that most people in government want to use their position for good.  I do think, however, that in general, less government is better than more government.  I tend to shy away from the “more government” approach because

  • More government usually means more standardization, and I agree with Toynbee that standardization presages decline, for it robs a society of flexibility and nimbleness of mind.
  • More government can lead to a creeping “Can’t Someone Else Do It?” approach to life whereby we abdicate responsibility for our lives to others, hardly congenial to a democracy.

I realize this very brief defense of a big idea hardly suffices, but I mention it only to say that someone who wants to be consistent on this position will find significant problems with both presidential candidates.  Since its hardly sporting to lob grenades at an obvious opponent, I will instead focus on Romney and Ryan’s hearty support for “E-Verify,” a program that would  create another massive government database, and give significant power to the government for determining who can and cannot work.

Dan Griswold does a great job of showing the program’s flaws in this article, with this excerpt getting to the rub,

The system also exposes too many legal workers to the risk of being falsely denied permission to work. As my Cato Institute colleague Jim Harper concluded in a study of the program, “It would deny a sizable percentage of law-abiding American citizens the ability to work legally. Deemed ineligible by a database, millions each year would go pleading to the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration for the right to work.

Cato’s full study on the negative impact of Arizona’s immigration laws is here.

Conservatives often accuse liberals of promoting the “soft tyranny” of the “nanny state,” but at the same time, some of these same conservatives lay a potential foundation for the “hard tyranny” of the “security state.”

Case in point — this week my wife and I received a mailing from an organization called “Americans for Limited Government,” an organization that, based on its name, I may have inclination to support.  The mailing encouraged us to go vote November 6, and to add extra spice to their encouragement, they listed the fact that we had voted in the previous three presidential elections.  This seemed odd, but they also told us whether or not four of our neighbors had voted in these same elections and compared our voting attendance record to theirs. To top it off, they promised that,

As a further service we will be updating our records after the expected high turnout for the [election].  We will then send an updated vote history audit to you and your neighbors with the results.

Gee, thanks.

This, from “Americans for Limited Government,” who somehow believe its their business and mine to know if my neighbors vote or not, and somehow believe that this has something to do with “limited government.”

Articles on this monstrosity abound, one of them being here.

The information age presents many temptations for those in the know, whether they be liberals or conservatives.

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