When a conservative says, “we need less government”, what they are really saying is we don’t need policies that interfere with protecting returns on capital. At least that is the view a classic liberal or even a libertarian would take.
Today’s conservative, while hiding behind the veil of classical liberalism, is really as much pro-government as his progressive opposites. Conservatives, while finding abhorrent the idea of excessive government spending, show a proclivity for excessive regulation of social behavior which to me is a lot worse than taxation. Gay marriage is a no-no, and abortions should be regulated out of existence.
Conservatives readily support military forays into the Middle East and will chastise opponents who think that military expenditures to fund these adventures are too costly. Just look at Senator John McCain’s criticism of President Barack Obama’s delay in intervening in Syria. These misadventures result in the loss of American life with nary a connection to how the loss benefits us here at home, but when it comes to government’s role in maintaining a healthy society, conservatives are quick to challenge the costs of food program initiatives even when tied to a decades long policy of helping to consume agricultural surpluses.
No, the conservative mantra of limited government is a false one. Substituting gotcha moments from a house oversight committee meeting a la Darrell Issa for real substantive legislation that eliminates unnecessary, unconstitutional agencies is not the same as pursuing smaller or limited government.
How many of us can name a congressman who is sponsoring a bill that eliminates any agency? For all the talk conservatives provided about eliminating federal agencies during the 2012 general election primaries, I have not seen any initiatives on course to achieve that.
And why won’t we see it? Because conservatives have a dual mandate when it comes to government’s role. Government should not interfere with returns on capital, and should be used to bring about a better society by regulating individual social behavior.
Instead, conservatives should be focusing on a government that distributes in an optimal manner our nation’s natural resources, ensuring that those resources go to private entities ready to put them to good use as indicated by the premium they are willing to pay for access.
Conservatives should also focus on maintaining an efficient justice system that addresses issues and controversies of fraud, theft, property rights, and violation of person.
In addition, conservatives should focus on ensuring a health care delivery system designed primarily to address the spread of contagion and a national defense system minus the John McCain zeal for military misadventures abroad.
It’s not about less government, but government focused on preserving our liberties.