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By definition, less government is always better
#1
Quote:One reason for this is that, whereas liberalism tries to apply the conclusions of science and academia to public policy, conservatism rejects those conclusions in favor of an a priori belief that more government is always wrong. One contributor, the not notably hinged commentator Glenn Beck, assails Trump for supporting the stimulus, the auto bailouts, and the bank bailouts — three measures that most economists believe helped prevent a much deeper recession. Movement conservatism rejects the conclusions of wide swaths of economists, social scientists, the entire field of climate science … of course it is liable to attract anti-intellectual candidates.
How Conservatism Created Donald Trump

For instance, the objection to climate science is either based on donor money or the belief that it necessitates public intervention, probably a combination of both. 

It isn't necessarily so popular with their own electorate though:


Quote:A second problem is that conservative doctrine is unpopular with the public as well. The majority may often support generalized anti-government sentiment, but it does not follow those generalities through to their specific implications. During George W. Bush’s first term, the proposition that Medicare ought to add prescription-drug coverage drew the support of 90 percent of the public. Conservatives did not believe this — some of them grudgingly accepted the Bush administration’s political need to cater to popular sentiment, while others castigated Bush as a traitor to conservatism for doing so.
How Conservatism Created Donald Trump
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#2
Quote:This is why big government is bad. Eventually it accumulates so much economic power that it inevitably starts throwing its weight around in a manner that punishes dissent.
New Balance Claims Obama Administration Used Contracts to Stifle Policy Objections

Nonsense. Many third world countries have fairly small governments, but they throw their weight around quite a bit more.
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#3
The anti-government ideology also gets a little help from the fact that many people have been taught a little economics. But a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing..

Quote:So why do many people think of economics as a bastion of libertarianism? Part of it might be due to undergraduate education. Most introductory college econ courses teach a very simple theory of supply and demand in which free markets make the whole world more efficient. Econ 101 courses tend to gloss over more difficult topics, such as externalities, asymmetric information and welfare economics, which often justify government intervention. The free-market stuff is simple and easy, while the market failures, though often important in the real world, are harder to understand. This can give college kids a simplistic, fun, but fundamentally wrong way of thinking about the economy, which I call “101ism.”
Economists Are Warming to Government Intervention - Bloomberg View
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#4
As it happens, less government isn't always better. In the figure below (which comes from an article by Jarred Bernstein) rubbishes the notion that smaller government is always better. In fact the correlation clearly goes the other way, although that doesn't mean it's causation, but it's enough to dispel the notion that we can expect a big (or any) boost from cutting taxes and reducing the size of the public sector. 

We wouldn't exclude the possibility that this could help in some cases, with targeted measures, but not as a general fix all policy.


[Image: nyt_growth2.png&w=480]
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#5
Quote:In the century and a half since then, government expenditures as a share of GDP have risen sharply in these countries. Yet they didn’t experience a slowdown in their longrun economic growth rates. The fact that economic growth has been so stable over this lengthy period, despite huge increases in the size of government, suggests that government size probably has had little or no impact on growth.
What’s slowing growth? Sorry, conservatives: It’s not the size of governments - The Washington Post
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#6
Here is the Daily Signal

Quote:How did America’s political and economic system change from limited government and capitalism early in our history, to the unlimited government and welfare statism of today? From about 1880 to the end of World War I, America went through a period of radical change. New political and economic principles were introduced by a group of academics, activists, and politicians known as progressives. Progressives proposed replacing the system of limited government, natural rights, and capitalism bequeathed to us by the Founders, with an unlimited government that closely regulates the economy and redistributes income.
How a Progressive Educator Helped Create Big Government

Actually, a better question would be: when was America's economy working for everyone? Indeed. Exactly in the period that the US economy benefited from the reforms of the progressives and the taming of financial markets of the New Deal. The golden era 1950-1980. 

When did it all start to fall apart? 

[Image: 191022-14685370227084525.png]

[Image: x95.gif.pagespeed.ic.8qpjsGtWHC.webp]

Indeed, from the 1980s onwards, the economy suffered from the right-wing counteroffensive, wages stagnated, the American Dream went up in smoke, and the gains went almost exclusively to the top, which got huge tax breaks as well. 

And part of the right now blames this all on "stupid trade deals." There isn't really much evidence that trade is responsible for most of the middle class stagnation, as other countries which are at least as open to trade, if not more so didn't experience anywhere near the same wage stagnation, nor the inexorable rise in inequality nor are they seeing decreasing white middle class life expectancy.
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#7
No, less government isn't always better by definition. Take education, for instance, those spiraling higher tuition fees. Where do they come from...

Quote:The twin issues of rising tuition and increasing student debt have become major national concerns in the past few years, as studentspolicymakers, and the media have all recognized the threat that the increasing unaffordability of a college education poses to our country’s future economic growth. But there has been less alarm over the causes of rising tuition in these circles, and when there is, such coverage unfortunately often focuses on minor contributors to rising costs, such as increased administrative costs and spending on dorms and other amenities.

Yet the major cause of rising tuition at public colleges—cuts to state higher education funding, as we and others have shown—is all-too-often ignored, likely because the solution it implies—reversing these funding cuts—has become sadly taboo in our austerity-dominated political landscape

Doug Webber’s recent piece at FiveThirtyEight helps correct that omission. Using Department of Education data, he shows that state funding cuts account for about three-quarters of the rise in tuition at public universities over the past 15 years, while all other factors, including rising administrative spending and construction costs, are responsible for at most a quarter of the rise.
The Real Cause of Rising Tuition at Public Colleges? State Funding Cuts. | Demos
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#8
And of course, government has nothing to do with this either..

Quote:Seoul, Korea is the happiest city in the world because it is wealthy, healthy, relatively crime-free, and looks after its citizens. That is according to a new report by design and consultancy firm Arcadis, which assesses and then ranks 100 major cities in the world across a few indexes. In its "people sub-index" it assesses:
  • Income inequality
  • Crime
  • Education
  • Work-life balance
  • Health
  • Affordability
Arcadis found that the Korean government's focus on excellent health and education helped propel Seoul to the number one spot. "The [government's] program also includes urban planning policies to strengthen the city’s identity, global competitiveness, development direction and innovation in the living environment for citizens," says Arcadis in the report.

"It has 139 projects in 13 districts that plan to transform the urban metropolis into a “safe, warm, dreaming, breathing city”. Seoul’s leaders have taken serious steps towards city sustainability with projects like the Cheonggyecheon urban renewal and river restoration project. This previously polluted area has been transformed into a public recreation space in the heart of the city.
Arcadis city ranking: Happiest city in the world, economically, health-wise, social progress - Business Insider

To compare, London..

Quote:Looking after its citizens across income equality, housing, and infrastructure does not just keep the population happy, it also secures more competitiveness longevityThis is what London is suffering fromIn the same report, while London ranked fifth in its list of wealthy and economically healthy cities, it comes 37 in its people sub-index. This is because of severe social inequality, crime, lack of housing and other major issues that pre-date the EU referendum on June 23. Arcadis warns that this will threaten London's ability to remain competitive in the future against other huge financial centres across the globe..
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#9
Trump's penny plan is targeting non-defense public spending that has already been severely cut:

Quote:Tucked into the details of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s revamped tax and economic package is something that sounds benign: the “Penny Plan.”

It seems simple and maybe even, to some, smart. To reduce spending — in an effort to pay for all of the other costly things he proposes, like big tax cuts — Trump promises to institute a rule that would cut everything that doesn’t go to the military, Social Security, or Medicare by 1 percent each year. That, the campaign claims, would reduce spending by nearly $1 trillion over a decade “without touching defense or entitlement spending.”

But the programs that would feel the knife serve a huge variety of vital purposes — and have already swallowed huge cuts. Non-defense discretionary spending, the category targeted by Trump, is an enormous bucket encompassing programs that do many different things. The money goes to domestic violence shelters. It funds scientific and medical research through agencies like the National Cancer Institute. Some of it goes to education and childcare, particularly for low-income and disabled students. Air travel depends on it. National parks operate with it, as do harbors and waterways. Low-income families get support for housing. The homebound elderly get nutrition through Meals on Wheels.
It even includes things that have been prioritized by Trump, such as border patrol and the veteran health care system.

The amount of money going to fund these programs is already significantly whittled down. It’s currently equivalent to about 3.3 percent of GDP, just barely above the lowest share it’s ever gotten. A big culprit here is the automatic budget cuts that Congress instituted in 2011 as part of its failure to reach a budget agreement, known as sequestration. The caps on spending have wreaked havoc on these programs’ ability to function.

Trump’s plan would make things much, much worse. A new report from the Center on Budget Priorities (CBPP) quantifies just how much of a bite Trump’s penny plan would take. Under his plan, after a decade these programs would have to operate with funding that’s 29 percent lower than what they currently get.

[Image: 1*Sle9X0CYDevliaISLri0Og.png]
And that’s not even the whole picture. The cuts would come on top of and compound the pain of sequestration. That means that, between sequestration’s budget caps and the penny plan, these programs would get 37 percent less funding by 2026 than they did in 2010.
“They add up to a lot of money,” said Richard Kogan, a senior fellow at the CBPP and a co-author of the report. “These are not trivial portions of this category of spending.”
Trump’s plan to destroy science, education, and veterans’ health care
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#10
Well on the way to sort off eliminating government, all in the name of tax cuts for the rich, increased defense spending and an ideology in which government is always the problem, never the solution:


Quote:President Trump is expected to release his outline for federal government spending on Monday, and according to multiple news outlets, he will increase defense funding by $54 billion while leaving Social Security and Medicare as is.

Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, confirmed to Fox on Sunday that entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare won’t be addressed in the budget document. “We are not touching those now,” he said.

But by increasing costs on one side of the ledger — defense spending — and not addressing some of the biggest drivers of government spending—Social Security and Medicare—Trump’s budget will almost certainly involve enormous and debilitating cuts to everything else if it doesn’t want to drive up the deficit. Indeed, the administration said on Monday morning that most so-called non-defense discretionary programs — everything other than entitlements and defense — will be cut substantially to pay for the rest.

According to the New York Times and Bloomberg, one big target will be the Environmental Protection Agency, whose workforce could be cut to a third of its current size. The administration also pointed to foreign aid as another place for cuts.

Previous reports have named a number of other programs that could be on the chopping block—defunded to the point of wholesale elimination. AmeriCorps; the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Department of Justice’s Legal Services Corporation and Violence Against Women Grants; the Office of National Drug Control Policy; funding for the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; the Export-Import Bank; and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Electricity, and Office of Fossil Energy, among others, could all be zeroed out.

Even so, these cuts wouldn’t get very far toward helping cover Trump’s other priorities, given that most of those programs cost less than $500 million a year out of a government that spends $3.9 trillion. All told, the savings would only come to about $2.5 billion.

By contrast, an earlier report said that Trump’s budget would cut $10.5 trillion in federal spending over a decade. That represents a far deeper reduction than any past Republican plans; the budget proposal put forward by Republicans on the House Budget Committee last year called for a $5.5 trillion cut in spending over the same timeframe, which was already higher than any previous version.
Trump’s preliminary budget makes devastating cuts to most of the government
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