Should a big country with big needs have a big government? Why not?

REASON is a libertarian publication.

Libertarians oppose “big government.” The problem is, they never provide a reason why they oppose big government, and they never tell exactly what “big” means.

ᐈ Scolding stock images, Royalty Free scolding photos | download on Depositphotos®
The Libertarians are content to act only as scolds

You can search their website for the answers to these questions, as I have, and you will be disappointed.

Is a “big” government one that employs many people, and if so, how many? How many is too “big” and how many are just right?

Or is a “big” government one that has many departments and agencies, and if so, how many? How many is too “big,” and how many are just right?

Or is a “big” government one that spends a lot of money, and if so, how much? How much is too much and how much is just right?

One would expect that a group complaining about “too big,” “too many,” and “too much” at least would have the answers to those fundamental questions.

But, so far as I can discern, any number of government employees is too many for the Libertarians;  any number of departments and agencies is too many, and any amount of spending is too much.

Seemingly, the Libertarians are content to act only as scolds. They seem to feel that as long as they simply complain, they have demonstrated prudence, acumen, and wisdom, and let someone else come up with real-world solutions to real-world problems.

Here is yet another article of that ilk. In red, is what REASON published, and in black is my commentary.

Will Joe Biden Destroy Trump’s Legacy of Deregulation?
Trump did more than any recent president to pare back regulatory red tape, but the incoming Biden administration is eager to add more.
Chrisitan Britschgi | 1.19.2021

Translation: Trump has many legacies, nearly all harmful. Trump did more than any recent president to pare back consumer protections.

During his first days in office, incoming President Joe Biden is planning to sign “dozens of executive orders, presidential memoranda” which will involve rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, expanding wilderness protections, and moving the country toward a 100 percent “clean energy” economy.

Translation: During his first days in office, incoming President Joe Biden is planning to . . . help reduce global warming and to protect our environment for our children and grandchildren.

“The priority of the Trump administration has been to reduce regulatory burdens,” says James Broughel, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.

“The Biden administration is going to want to issue lots of new regulations. That’s a near certainty. We’re going from an era where reducing burdens was the goal to where burdens will be added in the name of achieving certain social goals.”

Translation: “The priority of the Trump administration has been to reduce regulatory burdens” on polluters and dishonest businesses, while increasing burdens on consumers and on the earth itself. In reality, the priority of the Trump administration was Trump himself — his wealth, his power, his re-election.

Those “certain social goals” of the Biden administration have to do with the health, safety, and well-being of Americans and of the world.

The guiding light of the Trump administration’s deregulatory efforts was Executive Order 13771. That 2017 order instituted the famous rule that regulators issue two deregulatory actions for every new regulatory action.

. . . the infamous “rule that regulators issue two deregulatory actions for every new regulatory action” without regard to the benefit of the regulations or to the effect of the cuts. It is the most simplistic, childish solution to the perceived problem of overregulation.

It also created a system of . . .  regulatory budgets that limited the costs of new regulations they could impose, and often required them to find regulatory savings.

. . . while ignoring the social, environmental, and legal costs of cutting protective regulations, willy-nilly, just to save dollars.

Using this measurement of regulatory savings, the Trump administration has been modestly successful at its goal of deregulating the economy, claiming $198 billion in eliminated regulatory costs.

From fiscal years 2017–2019, the administration claims to have eliminated 3.6 rules for every new rule added. That ratio is 3.2 for fiscal year 2020. 

“. . . successful at its goal of deregulating the economy, claiming $198 billion in eliminated regulatory costs,” while completely ignoring the costly damage caused by cutting regulations that protect the nation, the public, and the environment.

The irony is: The Trump administration rightly complained that “defund the police” was a stupid idea. But it’s a classic, senseless, cut-the-budget, Libertarian idea. It would have saved a great deal of money for local governments, which being monetarily non-sovereign could use the savings.

Trump’s cuts were equally senseless, and they saved money for the federal government, which being Monetarily Sovereign, didn’t need the savings. It creates unlimited dollars, at will.

Further, because Gross Domestic Product = Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports, Trump’s cuts immediately took billions from the economy, and more if you consider the economic damage they caused.

Using other measurements, the Trump administration has been less successful. In some areas, they’ve done more to slow the growth of the administrative state without significantly reducing it.

The length of the Code of Federal Regulations stayed essentially flat during Trump’s time in office, hovering at around 185,000 pages.

The Mercatus Center’s tracker of restrictive words in the federal regulatory code comes to a similar result, finding that these words grew from 1.08 million at the beginning of Trump’s term to 1.09 million as of January 1, 2021.

Trump “leaves us with fewer regulations than Hillary Clinton would have—though not many fewer regulations than we had before,” summarizes Robert Verbruggen in a November National Review article.

It’s not clear what exactly “the administrative state is” or why it is bad, but counting the number of words in the federal regulatory code cannot possibly be an intelligent procedure for anything. 

Could it be that all the Libertarians really want is an editor who will make sentences shorter? What next for the Libertarians: A coloring book version of the federal regulations?

One can expect this limited progress to be more than reversed under the new administration. Biden has already announced plans to reinstate Obama-era regulations that were pared back by the Trump administration.

Oh, woe. Biden will resume protections for the public and the environment. How awful.

Politico reports that he’ll likely try to revive the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan—which regulated carbon dioxide emissions from power plants—that the Trump administration had replaced in 2019. Biden’s housing platform calls for a revival of the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule that Trump gutted in July 2020. The Trump administration’s replacement of the Obama administration’s clean water rules will also likely be ditched.

More woe. We’re going to have cleaner power production, less carbon dioxide emissions, fairer housing, and cleaner water. To the Libertarians, it’s outrageous that Biden won’t force our children to breathe polluted air, drink polluted water, and live in a world damaged by global warming.

Doesn’t Biden know that the real goal of the President is to make the Code of Federal Regulations shorter?

In order to facilitate new rules, large and small, Biden will almost certainly rescind Executive Order 13771 and all the limits it imposed on new red tape.

The Libertarians wrongly equate “red tape” (i.e. inefficiency) with the existence of rules. One assumes that speed limits, food and drug protections, saving lakes and rivers from pollutions, etc. are all classified as “red tape.”

“All the cost caps will probably be eliminated,” says Broughel, as will the regulatory budget the Trump administration used to account for the costs of new rules. Doing so would be a “slap in the face at trying to estimate the effects of the regulatory system.”

Nevertheless, the fact that the Trump administration was able to adopt a regulatory budget at all proves that it can be done. Other future administrations might be more able and willing to pick it up again.

“I suspect in some form the regulatory budget will come back,” says Broughel. “The Trump administration showed that it was workable.”

The Trump administration proved that any idiot could say, “Cut two rules for every new one, without regard to effect.” How about an improvement on that. Make it “cut three rules for every new one,” or even better, cut ten rules for every new one.

Or just let everyone run wild and eliminate all rules.

There, in fact, is no record of the Libertarians objecting to the cut of any rule, no matter how beneficial that rule had been or how damaging the cut. In truth, the Libertarians have no objection to anarchy. It is their model of success.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Biden promised Americans a return to normalcy after the unusual, often unsettling administration of Donald Trump. There could be nothing more normal than the federal government issuing a steady stream of red tape without bothering to account for its costs.

Since the Libertarians have not demonstrated any concern about social, environmental, and health costs, and only are concerned about governmental spending, why would anyone take them seriously?

More importantly, why do the Republicans object to Biden’s newly proposed stimulus spending?

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..


The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

  1. Eliminate FICA
  2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone
  3. Social Security for all or a reverse income tax
  4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone
  5. Salary for attending school
  6. Eliminate federal taxes on business
  7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 
  8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.
  9. Federal ownership of all banks
  10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.


4 thoughts on “Should a big country with big needs have a big government? Why not?

  1. “… why do the Republicans object to Biden’s newly proposed stimulus spending?”
    They don’t want to see Biden/Democrats succeed and get reelected. Hence, they want millions to go on suffering. Fiscal responsibility is more important than protection of human life. Having plenty of money is good only for Republicans. The masses must struggle.


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