Big Government Essay

Pages: 5 (1754 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Government

¶ … Right to Downsize Big Government

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -- Benjamin Franklin

Proponents argue that some people are not able to take care of their problems themselves and need the type of assistance that only Big Government can provide. Proponents of Big Government also argue that some companies are "too big to fail" and tens of billions of American taxpayer dollars have been used to bail out corporations while millions of Americans lost their homes to the Great Recession of 2008. Critics of Big Government counter that the United States is mortgaging the fortunes of future generations by profligate spending habits today. In order to determine the facts in this situation, this paper provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature concerning Big Government and its effects on the country in recent years in general, and post-September 11, 2001 in particular. A summary of the research and important findings are presented in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

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The debate over the appropriate role and size of the federal government is certainly not now, and it has in fact been ongoing since the founding of the United States in 1776 (Beland & Chantal, 2004). The debate reached especially heated levels following the end of the Civil War when it reached its peak, but the controversy was not resolved at that time and the issue of Big Government remained at the forefront of American political debate prior to 1929 (Beland & Chantal, 2004). In fact, some authorities even argue that during this period in American history, "The growth of 'Big Government' was the necessary medicine to build a viable and robust version of capitalism" (Wray, 2008, p. 153).

Essay on Big Government Assignment

Then, as now, critics argue that Big Government is a problem because the larger government becomes, the more taxes that must be paid to support it. Furthermore, the very nature of the insatiable beast makes it self-perpetuating. Government agencies make sure they spend every cent they are allocated each year in order to justify even larger budgets for the next budget cycle. Unfortunately, this vicious cycle has resulted in an untenable situation in which the annual income for most Americas is not enough to support the continuation of Big Government. This is true based on the $16 trillion dollar debt that has been incurred in recent years. At the current rate, this generation of Americans will have spent the taxes of its grandchildren's generation and the counting is still not over.

Many Americans may not realize what their tax money is used for, nor do they know all of the loopholes that high-priced tax lawyers use for their giant corporate clients. The average taxpayers are concerned with how much of their own money they will get back at the end of the year. If the average person took an interest in what, why and where their monthly rent/mortgage went towards they would likewise be more inclined to question how their taxes are spent. The average tax payer does not receive or fully understand the benefits that are paid for by the federal government to which they may be entitled (Mitchell, 2002). By changing the system so that withholding was eliminated and taxpayers paid their taxes on a monthly basis, a much more efficient system would develop that eliminated much of the overpayments each month (Mitchell, 2002). More importantly, the 800-pound gorilla in the room, Social Security, is in jeopardy and the system is in danger of running out of money (Mitchell, 2002).

In this environment, it would seem that the federal government would be looking for ways to save money rather than new ways to spend it, but this has not been the case by a long shot. Many American taxpayers may not know that the federal government paid $15 billion to bail out the airline industry post-September 11, 2001. The bailout of the airline industry by the federal government was based on the rationale that a viable aviation industry is essential to the nation's interests (Branum & Dokupil, 2002). Despite the massive amounts of taxpayer resources spent on this enterprise, the bail out did not prevent layoffs in the airline industry. At the same time, several states asked for several billion in additional federal spending for their states (Feulner, 2001). To be fair, some Big Government advocates maintain that these bailouts helped to prevent an even worse economic meltdown and served to stabilize an unstable economy over the short-term (Wray, 2008).

Do the tax payers know that the government, through subsidies and tax breaks, allows states to offer some sort of incentive for making movies. In 2011 congressional testimony, the Tax Foundation's Joseph Henchman noted that "these programs lose government funding between 72 and 92 cents for every dollar spent on them, even after accounting for increased economic activity generated by film production" (Welch, 2012, para. 2). As a result of Big Government being in control, Americans are slowly losing the ability to make their own choices since these have already been made for them by government coercion. For instance, mandating health care regulations that require employers to pay for contraceptives no matter what the circumstances may go against moral or religious ideals. This type of regulatory action is clearly beyond the scope or intent of government's role. This is a very slippery slope and when civil liberties and personal choices are continually eroded, the day may well come when Americans find themselves like China where the government will be limiting how many children they can have.

Across the board, continued government spending and expansion has gotten out of hand. Big government has become an institution that reaches beyond federal and state boundaries. It can no longer be supported by continued tax payer funding and infringes upon the constitutionality of personal and private sector liberties. According to "The Return of Big Government," by Feulner, "Big government was thrust into action after September 11, 2001. The nation wanted the government to take control and ensure the nation's homeland, private sector job and financial security" (2001, para. 1). In addition, in his essay, "Big Government's Trojan Horse," Mitchel (2000) emphasizes that many Americans do not realize how much taxes are being paid to the federal/state government or that these taxes are an interest free loan to support further government expansion threatening national security.

Indeed, many of the initiatives that have been advanced by proponents of Big Government have had the opposite effect from that intended. According to Tanner (2007), "In the long run, big government is not likely to be compatible with economic growth. A growing welfare state will inevitably drain resources from the private sector and put them to less efficient uses" (p. 15). The "less efficient use" reference is salient because critics maintain that to the extent that Big Government assumes responsibilities for more and more aspects of the daily lives of its citizens is the extent to which American society will be further degraded. In this regard, Tanner emphasizes that, "By substituting government action for the voluntary activities of civil society, big government conservatives threaten to undermine the very civic values that they seek to champion" (p. 15).

Rather than the "Big Brother"-type of government that has been developing in the United States for the past several decades, Walters (1999) reports that that Big Government that has emerged is not only ineffective, it is the misguided in its efforts. For instance, Walters (1999) reports that, "Republicans in Congress argue that Big Government has failed to address the human needs of America. They want to return that responsibility to where it has historically rested -- with families, communities, churches and synagogues, and state and local governments" (p. 15). Likewise, Branum and Dokupil (2002) suggest that despite the ongoing controversy over the proper size and role of the federal government, the answer is fairly straightforward. Indeed, Branum and Dokupil (2002) maintain that Americans know how to use their money to the best effect and do not need a Big Government overseer to override the dictates of the invisible hand of commerce. In this regard, Branum and Dokupil conclude that, "By returning to the original understanding of the Founders that a truly strong people need only a limited government, the nation will succeed and prosper. Individuals, communities, and free markets create innovative solutions far better than even the best of governments" (p. 433).


Taken together, it is clear that despite the ongoing controversy, many authorities agree that the appropriate size and role of the federal government has been affected over the years by powerful interest groups that have exploited Big Government to their own advantage. Although the debate is not new, the research showed that current government has grown by leaps and bounds during the last 20 years alone. These issues beg the question, "Why does the average citizen have to pay to keep growing an increasingly inefficient federal government? The current government debt is detrimental… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Big Government" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Big Government.  (2012, June 19).  Retrieved January 22, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Big Government."  19 June 2012.  Web.  22 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Big Government."  June 19, 2012.  Accessed January 22, 2021.