My friend Mark asked why liberals who in theory are all about creativity and fresh thinking like big government which is clumsy, costly and cramps liberty. This is how I answered this interesting conflict or dilemma in how we organize society.
The major characteristic of the society we live in is its dominance by major corporations with monopoly power who control oil, energy, defense, healthcare, autos, retail and most supplies of manufacturing goods and many services…. They also control the media, whether superficially liberal or conservative, in their own economic interests and limit any discussion of economic alternatives. They also reflect the interest of the 1% and have no interest in tackling inequality. Faced with this one would like smart government as a countervailing power.
Unfortunately since Reagan said corporations have also taken over government. This is like the mafia taking over the police in Cook County. And this has been reinforced by Citizens United and previous laws which treat corporations as if they are people which they are not.
So liberals dream not of big government, but of government out of the hands of corporations, so that it represents ‘we the people’ and countervails and balances ‘they the corporate power’, regulates financial markets, so there less boom bust, and runs a tax system that makes sure the rich pay their fair share at the same rate in the $ as the rest of us, no shelters, no offshore bank accounts, no low rate on capital gains over a certain level etc. No defense pork. No pork at all.
This would be smart, tough, wise countervailing government, and actually the market system would run better with this than it does when left to its own sociopathic and monopolistic tendencies. It could be smaller and more cost effective. It should not be a jobs for pols friends program and conservatives could play a role in challenging line item by line item if we are getting good value. If it is orderly, well run and keeps us honest. But they would not try to abolish great swathes of needed government, pretending it is for ‘our the peoples’ liberty, when it is only for the liberty of large corporations monopoly power and the 1% and the abolitions would screw the rest of us.
And of course if you look at Europe, it has lots of problems, but London and the Netherlands, to take two examples, are deeply creative, with great freedom of thinking, but strong government. California’s Silicon Valley or Seattle are similar. Indeed in Europe not having to think about their own healthcare costs is really good for young people’s starting up businesses. There is no contradiction, though we need to keep our government slimmer than Europe I think. But a slim government can still, if the corruption of Citizens United is stripped away, be smart government. Hope this helps.