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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Bit by bit

Makes sense:

If Americans prefer smaller government, why does it continue to grow?

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, AEI President Arthur Brooks and Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) discuss why America continues to have big government even though Americans consistently tell pollsters that they'd prefer smaller government. The Left answers that Americans suffer from some form of cognitive dissonance, in which they retain nominal loyalty to an outmoded view (from the Left's perspective) of the government's role , while in practice embracing the benefits of expansive government.

Brooks and Ryan answer that, despite Americans' broader preferences, elected officials present the public with marginal choices in which bigger government always wins. Feed hungry children? Check. Keep grandma out of poverty? Check. Once you check enough of these boxes, you end up with big government even if you say you'd prefer something smaller. Brooks and Ryan argue that citizens need to be presented with larger, macro-oriented choices rather than incremental ones, since only with big choices do voters focus on the larger decisions that need to be made.

Government grows a little at a time, so incrementally that people don't notice till one day, whoops! it's gargantuan. It's like gaining a pound a day and not noticing till one day an old friend drops by and rudely points out how fat you've become.


larry morris
Thu, 09/23/2010 - 10:18am

Just like the frog in boiling water - toss a frog in boiling water and he will jump out immediately - put him in cold water and let it heat up slowly - he'll sit there and boil. Anybody feeling the heat yet ????

tim zank
Thu, 09/23/2010 - 1:40pm

EVERYBODY is feeling the heat Larry, hence the impending bloodbath for Democrats in November.

Bob G.
Thu, 09/23/2010 - 2:18pm

We can but hope...!

William Larsen
Thu, 09/23/2010 - 8:53pm

Politicians have bought votes by using other people's money to pay for things others wants like college grants, tuition tax credits, child tax credits, college loans, grants, and more. The problem is now everyone is paying for everyone else's wants and the burden has now reached a tipping point. There are no more votes to buy.

William Larsen
Thu, 09/23/2010 - 8:55pm

I am sorry, I should have said "The only votes they can buy is to let the people keep more of their money, thus shrinking government."