Bigger government shrinks freedom

Freedom New Mexico

We’re at a crossroads, having elected four consecutive presidents with almost indecipherable agendas to grow government’s size and scope. Today, public employees demonstrate because the government-stifled economy cannot afford them. Congress wields meat ax because the country is broke. Businesses grapple with government health insurance mandates that they cannot afford. These are the sights and sounds of Americans choosing the proper role of government, while the economy chooses it for them.

This is not a democracy. We are a free republic of constitutional restraints, such as First Amendment protections of free speech. The restraints protect individuals from popular sentiment. In a democracy, majorities dictate how individuals live. They deprive individuals of inalienable rights. In our republic, mobs have no such power when courts uphold the Constitution.

Our country’s history of racial strife reveals the causes and effects of unconstitutional government intervention in our lives. Governments, empowered by popular sentiment, enslaved and otherwise oppressed blacks in the South. The forceful undoing of government authority over blacks — undone in part by civil war — freed individuals. When we allowed blacks to sit at the front of the bus, to possess firearms, to use front entrances, to use drinking fountains, etc., we did so by reducing the government’s authority to enforce Jim Crow laws. Deregulation freed black Americans. Less government, more freedom.

We oppress couples of the same sex, making certain they may not wed in New Mexico, by empowering government to enforce popular sentiment. More government, less freedom. When Brown v. Board of Education ended segregation, the Supreme Court freed individuals from government imposition of majority will. More government equals more order, less freedom. Less government equals less order, more freedom. Order is “blacks on this school bus, whites on that one.” Freedom is “choose a bus.”

The challenge is finding the minimal amount of order to maintain civility, while maximizing freedom.

Today, we are not longing for more order. Government, through mandate or taxation, tells us more each day what to eat, drink and smoke. It takes nearly half a private-sector worker’s pay, spending it in ways that may scandalize the earner. Americans pay to bring order to chaos overseas. They work and pay for pensions they may never enjoy.

After 23 consecutive years of big-government leadership from presidents and Congress, we don’t need more order. We need more freedom to thrive. To prosper, we must reduce the size and scope of federal, state and local governments. As it stands, the government-stifled, overregulated economy will pare down government whether we like it or not. That’s what public-sector workers are finding out, the hard way.