Bad Idea: We need More Government

From: L. Michael Hall
2021 Neurons #57
September 3, 2021
How Self-Actualization
Can Save Politics #11


Here’s another bad political idea. It is a really bad idea, and always has been, to think that “we need more government.” More government, no matter what form it has taken over the centuries and millennia has never been socially good for people. Even if Kings were “benevolent,” they had all power and there was no appeal if you felt that power was unfair. Even in modern times, the more government means more bureaucracy and that inevitably means more regulations and more inefficiency. Bureaucrats, like everyone else, want to feel important and needed, so what do they do? They seek to have more and more oversight of things and that means they create more regulations so that they have more control. None of that is good.

Reagan put it succinctly when he noted that “government is the problem.” Now if the citizenry of a country were all primitive, uneducated children, then maybe, just maybe, in that situation, we would need more government. But where you have education and an educated citizenry, then you have the context wherein there can be a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” But it does take an educated people, and a level of maturity in the people, to be able to create an effective self-determining government.

It is an immature and overly dependent citizenry that would even want more government. The idea of capitalism is that government provides enough safety and protection from enemies, foreign and domestic, so that people are free to pursue their interests, develop their different potentials, and contribute to creating value in a free marketplace. That means entrepreneurship. That means the development and self-actualization of individuals to pursue opportunities, to assume responsibility for themselves, and to create their own destinies.

So who would even want more government? Answer: Those who want to be taken care of. And what does that sound like? Doesn’t it sound like immature children who are afraid of life, of risks, of responsibilities, of maturing, and of growing up? They want a governmental mommy and daddy to take care of them— and that would be a socialistic government so that they don’t have to think for themselves. But, of course, that goes against healthy human development.

It is human nature that we mature and learn to accept responsibility. Our bodies, our minds, our social relationships, etc. are all designed to mature. If we have learned anything from Developmental Psychology, we have learned this. Erickson explored the cognitive development and the psycho-social stages of development. Fraud explored sexual development over the life-span. Fowler explored the development of belief. Even cultures grow up and mature.

Who else might want more government? Well, people employed by the government, of course! Politicians, bureaucrats, the permanent government employees, lobbyists who want more and more support from government, some who have become addicted to government handouts, and those who have mental-emotional compulsions for being dependent. This is the problem with more and more government programs— people become dependent on them. Eventually they are treated as “entitlements” which creates its own pathology.

More government is a bad idea that has lots of negative consequences. It means more taxes to pay for the bigger government and that goes against entrepreneurship and self-determination. It undermines the middle-class. More government feeds dependency and undermines independence and self-efficacy. More government means more intrusions and more control over our lives. The very idea of wanting more government is a thought virus— a virus that needs a good vaccination of critical thinking and compassionate capitalism.

The further you go to the right on the political spectrum, the more you find larger personal liberties and smaller government. Why is that? Because men and women who are healthy and self-actualizing are willing to accept responsibility for themselves (and to others) and don’t need to depend on a nanny state. A much better idea for politics is small government and large personal development.