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.