Wednesday, October 7, 2009

inherent tendencies of government

I swore I wouldn't post more David Brooks but he's on such a roll I can't help it. Read.

But he doesn't make a big deal out of the more general point, which is that government has inherent directional tendencies. Government will always make itself bigger. Government will always try to "do something" rather than leave the solution up to something/someone else. Government will always give more influence to lobbyists than unorganized groups. Federal government will grow relative to local government.

This has nothing to do with party lines or the particular attributes of lawmakers. The natural mechanisms of government will filter in actions that make these trends inevitable.

We have checks and balances to prevent similar trends in the branches of government. Unfortunately there are no checks and balances between levels of government, and I can't think of what other party would be on the other ends of a system of checks and balances on size and action and influence. Even when explicit limits are written into the constitution, the government will eventually change the constitution to favor itself (eg, the 16th amendment).

And even concerned citizens wanting to mitigate particular inevitabilities have to play the system to get anywhere (lobbyists for a lobby-free government?)

(Poor Hume. All he wanted was to let the smart engineers battle it out over sustainable energy, but instead he got ethanol subsidies.)