We Need Government – But Not For Everything

“For 100 years, the narratives of progressives from Woodrow Wilson on, is that progress will come if and only if we concentrate more and more power in Washington, more and more Washington power in the executive branch and more executive power in the hands of experts — disinterested experts such as those who designed HealthCare.gov.”

— George F. Will

I like George Will a lot, and have for years. There are days when he gets a little doctrinaire for my tastes, but they are always redeemed by points like this.

I am not quite as doctrinaire about government as some of the more extreme libertarians. I believe that there are some things that the federal government must do because a) they must be done, and b) neither private enterprise, civil society, nor any other level of government can legally or practically do it. I think most reasonable libertarians would agree with me, and that the only thing we might dispute is where that line is drawn.

You don’t put Bechtel in charge of preserving our national parks. You don’t make the L.A. City Council responsible for building interstate highways. You don’t make the First AME Church responsible for enforcing civil rights legislation. And you don’t put the governor of Kansas in charge of the national defense. You get the federal government to do those things because, like it or not, experience has proven that they are most likely to be most effective in those roles. We can argue as long as you like about whether those things are necessary, but logic dictates that the Feds do it.

Neither, however, do you operate on the presumption that something is better done by the federal government. The folks in Washington have done some fine things over the years, but they have also laid upon this nation some schemes that we may wish we could forget but we must not.

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Author: David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.

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