Step 1: Use a Crisis…

…real or imagined to scare the public. Step 2. Ask for both a larger and more intrusive government to address the crisis. Step 3. When the crisis is over hang to as much of the additional government and power that was granted. This, in a nutshell, is how Robert Higgs described the growth of government in his book Crisis and Leviathan.

In Crisis and Leviathan, Robert Higgs shows that the main reason lies in government’s responses to national “crises” (real or imagined), including economic upheavals (e.g., the Great Depression) and especially war (e.g., World Wars I and II, Cold War, etc.). The result is ever increasing government power which endures long after each crisis has passed, impinging on both civil and economic liberties and fostering extensive corporate welfare and pork.–emphasis in the original

Then I read this article about Obama giving a speech at George Mason University.

The president-elect cast blame on “an era of profound irresponsibility that stretched from corporate boardrooms to the halls of power in Washington.” But he added, “The very fact that this crisis is largely of our own making means that it is not beyond our ability to solve.”

“I don’t believe it’s too late to change course, but it will be if we don’t take dramatic action as soon as possible,” he said.

[…]

“It’s a plan that represents not just new policy but a whole new approach to meeting our most urgent challenges,” Obama said.

[…]

But he expressed confidence the country could meet the challenge, saying: “We are still the nation that has overcome great fears and improbable odds. If we act with the urgency and seriousness that this moment requires, I know that we can do it again.”

[…]

“At this particular moment, only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe,” he said.

[…]

Obama also promised action to address the economy’s ills beyond the package, such as tackling a potential wave of home foreclosures, preventing the failure of financial institutions, rewriting financial regulations and keeping accountable the “Wall Street wrongdoers” who engage in risky investing.

I read that and think that it fits very, very nicely with Higgs’ description of how government grows and expands. And as government grows and expands it does so at the expense of individual liberties.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Government, , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. Drew says:

    “Obama also promised action to address the economy’s ills beyond the package, such as tackling a potential wave of home foreclosures, preventing the failure of financial institutions, rewriting financial regulations and keeping accountable the “Wall Street wrongdoers” who engage in risky investing.”

    Did he promise to punish government officials who threatened to bring criminal redlining charges against lenders if they didn’t underwrite crappy, excuse me, “sub-prime,” mortgages in the name of “affordable housing?”

    Did he promise to hold Barney Frank or Chris Dodd accountable for vociferously and publicly denouncing regulatory reforms for Fannie Mae?

    Is he going to reinstate Glass Steagal?

    No?

    Then he has no credibility. Just a garden variety demogogue playing politics at the expense of society and facilitated by public ignorance about what really happened.

  2. HiItsNino says:

    Government grows and grows under republican leadership and no one says a word. A Democrat gets in office and suddenly its an outrage.

    Sadly, the government that grows under republican leadership usually involves invading your privacy, building more weapons that are not really needed, and other things that there is nothing to show for when they leave the country a mess.

    Democrats expand government by building bridges, infrastructure projects, and things that benefit us all years after they leave office and that is supposed to be a bad thing?

  3. rodney dill says:

    1: Use a crisis real or imagined to scare the public. Step 2. Ask for both a larger and more intrusive government to address the crisis.

    I’ve been saying for years that this is what our politician’s interest in global warming is all about.

  4. od says:

    I’ve been saying for years that this is what our politician’s interest in global warming is all about.

    I think the point is that every politician has been using this on almost every issue – from global warming to Al Quayda to bank failure.

  5. HiItsNino says:

    Yeah, these politicians have the scientists in their pockets. In fact, its a myth that carbon increases heat, too. The melting continental shelf in Antarctica is done with trick photography. Those balloon experiments and such are all fake as well. Its all done just to deceive you. Keep you under control. The war on terror is real though.