Small government

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Small government is a concept or principle widely invoked by liberalism, mainly by political conservatives and libertarians, to describe an economic and political system where there is minimal government involvement in certain areas of public policy or the private sector, especially matters considered to be private or personal. It is an important topic in classical liberalism, libertarianism and conservatism, but challenged by supporters of big government. [1] However, what specific policies should be adopted to advance the objective of small government, and how they are to be applied, is subject to considerable debate.

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support limited government, individual rights, capitalism, democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. Yellow is the political colour most commonly associated with liberalism.

Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization. The central tenets of conservatism include tradition, human imperfection, organic society, hierarchy, authority, and property rights. Conservatives seek to preserve a range of institutions such as religion, parliamentary government, and property rights, with the aim of emphasizing social stability and continuity. The more traditional elements—reactionaries—oppose modernism and seek a return to "the way things were".

Libertarianism is a collection of political philosophies and movements that uphold liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing freedom of choice, voluntary association and individual judgment. Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power, but they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing political and economic systems. Various schools of libertarian thought offer a range of views regarding the legitimate functions of state and private power, often calling for the restriction or dissolution of coercive social institutions.

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Australia

In Australian politics, the Labor Party has traditionally been perceived as the party of big government while the Liberal Party is the party of small government. [2] Of the 34 advanced economies, Australia's revenue is the ninth-lowest and spending the seventh-lowest. [3]

Politics of Australia

The politics of Australia take place within the framework of a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy. Australians elect parliamentarians to the federal Parliament of Australia, a bicameral body which incorporates elements of the fused executive inherited from the Westminster system, and a strong federalist senate, adopted from the United States Congress. Australia largely operates as a two-party system in which voting is compulsory. The Economist Intelligence Unit has rated Australia as a "full democracy" in 2018.

Australian Labor Party Political party in Australia

The Australian Labor Party is a major centre-left political party in Australia. The party has been in opposition at the federal level since the 2013 election. The party is a federal party with branches in each state and territory. Labor is in government in the states of Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, and in both the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. The party competes against the Liberal/National Coalition for political office at the federal and state levels. It is the oldest political party in Australia.

Liberal Party of Australia Australian political party

The Liberal Party of Australia is a major centre-right political party in Australia, one of the two major parties in Australian politics, along with the centre-left Australian Labor Party (ALP). It was founded in 1944 as the successor to the United Australia Party (UAP).

Denmark

Former Prime Minister of Denmark Anders Fogh Rasmussen wrote the book From Social State to Minimal State (Danish : Fra socialstat til minimalstat) in 1993, in which he advocated an extensive reform of the Danish welfare system along classical liberal lines. In particular, he favors lower taxes and less government interference in corporate and individual matters.

Prime Minister of Denmark position

The Prime Minister of Denmark is the head of government in the Kingdom of Denmark comprising the three constituent countries: Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Before the creation of the modern office, the kingdom did not initially have a head of government separate from its head of state, namely the Monarch, in whom the executive authority was vested. The Constitution of 1849 established a constitutional monarchy by limiting the powers of the Monarch and creating the office of premierminister. The inaugural holder of the office was Adam Wilhelm Moltke.

Denmark Constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a sovereign state in Northern Europe. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. The southernmost of the Scandinavian nations, Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen Former Prime Minister of Denmark and NATO secretary general

Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a Danish politician who was the 24th Prime Minister of Denmark from November 2001 to April 2009 and the 12th Secretary General of NATO from August 2009 to October 2014. He is now CEO of political consultancy Rasmussen Global and a senior advisor at The Boston Consulting Group's Copenhagen office.

However, Rasmussen has since then repudiated many of the views expressed in the book, [4] moving towards the centre-right and adopting environmentalism. [5]

Environmentalism broad philosophy, ideology and social movement concerning environmental wellbeing

Environmentalism or environmental rights is a broad philosophy, ideology, and social movement regarding concerns for environmental protection and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the impact of changes to the environment on humans, animals, plants and non-living matter. While environmentalism focuses more on the environmental and nature-related aspects of green ideology and politics, ecology combines the ideology of social ecology and environmentalism. Ecology is more commonly used in continental European languages while ‘environmentalism’ is more commonly used in English but the words have slightly different connotations.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has followed small government, laissez-faire policies for decades Hong Kong Night Skyline.jpg
Hong Kong has followed small government, laissez-faire policies for decades

Hong Kong has followed small government, laissez-faire policies for decades, limiting government intervention in business. Milton Friedman described Hong Kong as a laissez-faire state and he credits that policy for the rapid move from poverty to prosperity in 50 years. [6] However, some argue that since Hong Kong was a British colony and Britain was not a free market, Hong Kong's success was not due to laissez-faire policies. [7]

Hong Kong East Asian city

Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, is a special administrative region on the eastern side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China. With over 7.4 million people of various nationalities in a 1,104-square-kilometre (426 sq mi) territory, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world.

Laissez-faire is an economic system in which transactions between private parties are free from government intervention such as regulation, privileges, tariffs and subsidies. The phrase laissez-faire is part of a larger French phrase and literally translates to "let (it/them) do", but in this context usually means "let go".

Milton Friedman American economist, statistician, and writer

Milton Friedman was an American economist who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his research on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and the complexity of stabilization policy. With George Stigler and others, Friedman was among the intellectual leaders of the second generation of Chicago school of economics, a methodological movement at the University of Chicago's Department of Economics, Law School and Graduate School of Business from the 1940s onward. Several students and young professors who were recruited or mentored by Friedman at Chicago went on to become leading economists, including Gary Becker, Robert Fogel, Thomas Sowell and Robert Lucas Jr.

A 1994 World Bank Group report stated that Hong Kong's GDP per capita grew in real terms at an annual rate of 6.5% from 1965 to 1989, a consistent growth percentage over a span of almost 25 years. [8] By 1990, Hong Kong's per capita income officially surpassed that of the ruling United Kingdom. [9]

The World Bank Group (WBG) is a family of five international organizations that make leveraged loans to developing countries. It is the largest and most well-known development bank in the world and is an observer at the United Nations Development Group. The bank is headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States. It provided around $61 billion in loans and assistance to "developing" and transition countries in the 2014 fiscal year. The bank's stated mission is to achieve the twin goals of ending extreme poverty and building shared prosperity. Total lending as of 2015 for the last 10 years through Development Policy Financing was approximately $117 billion. Its five organizations are the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The first two are sometimes collectively referred to as the World Bank.

Per capita income mean income of the people in an economic unit such as a country or city

Per capita income (PCI) or average income measures the average income earned per person in a given area in a specified year. It is calculated by dividing the area's total income by its total population.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Since 1995, Hong Kong has been ranked as having the world's most liberal capital markets by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal . [10] The Fraser Institute concurred in 2007. [11]

New Zealand

After financial reforms beginning in 1984—first "Rogernomics" and later "Ruthanasia"—successive governments transformed New Zealand from a highly regulated economy to a liberalized free market economy. [12] The New Zealand Government sold its telecommunications company, railway network, a number of radio stations and two financial institutions. [13] These reforms were initially implemented by the Labour Party, which has since reverted to its social democratic and interventionist outlook; whereas the centre-right New Zealand National Party has taken up the cause of small government and continues to promote private enterprise, low taxation, reduced spending on social welfare and overall limited state interference. Small government is associated with conservatism in contemporary New Zealand politics.

United Kingdom

The idea of small government was heavily promoted in the United Kingdom by the Conservative government under the Premiership of Margaret Thatcher. There are differing views on the extent to which it was achieved. It allowed the stock markets and industries to compete more heavily with each other and made British goods more valued in world trade.[ citation needed ]

An important part of the Margaret Thatcher government's policy was privatisation, which was intended to reduce the role of the state in the economy and allow industries to act without government interference. Supporters blamed excessive government intervention for much of Britain's economic woes during the late 1960s and 1970s.

Opponents argue that privatisation harms social programs for the poor. This argument is particularly heard in connection with the railways and the National Health Service (NHS). Small government supporters, such as the British author and journalist James Bartholomew, point out that although record amounts of funding have gone into social security, public education, council housing and the NHS, it has been detrimental to the people it was intended to help and does not represent value for investment. [14]

In the 20th century, small government was generally associated with the Conservative Party and big government with the Labour Party.

In addition to opposing government intervention in the economy, advocates of small government oppose government intervention in people's personal lives. The Labour government during the premiership of Tony Blair was criticized on this score, e.g. by giving unwanted advice about eating, drinking and smoking. This has been dubbed as the "nanny state".[ citation needed ]

United States

The United States is a constitutional republic. At the time the nation was founded there was disagreement between the Federalists who supported a strong federal government; and the Anti-Federalists, who wanted a loose confederation of independent states. In The Federalist Papers , Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay explained why a strong federal government was necessary. Hamilton wrote:

Not to confer in each case a degree of power commensurate to the end would be to violate the most obvious rules of prudence and propriety, and improvidently to trust the great interests of the nation to hands which are disabled from managing them with vigor and success. [15]

President Thomas Jefferson said:

[A] wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. [16]

The current "small government" movement in the United States is largely a product of Ronald Reagan's presidency from 1981 to 1989. Reagan declared himself a small-government conservative and famously said:

Government is not a solution to our problem; government is the problem. [17]

This has become the unofficial slogan of the Tea Party movement and conservative commentators like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. [18] The Tea Party movement claims the United States used to have a small government and has turned away from that ideal. Generally, members of the Tea Party support the Republican Party and often run against moderate Republicans in the primary elections.

The libertarian-wing of the Republican Party, which includes politicians such as Ron Paul and his son Rand, is particularly strong in its support of small government in contrast with the neoconservative-wing, which favors large defense spending and the Christian right, which wants a federal government that would enforce what they see as Christian morality.

A 2013 Gallup poll showed that the majority (54%) of Americans think the government is trying to do too much. [19]

See also

Related Research Articles

Classical liberalism is a political ideology and a branch of liberalism which advocates civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom. Closely related to economic liberalism, it developed in the early 19th century, building on ideas from the previous century as a response to urbanisation and to the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the United States. Notable individuals whose ideas contributed to classical liberalism include John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Robert Malthus and David Ricardo. It drew on the classical economic ideas espoused by Adam Smith in Book One of The Wealth of Nations and on a belief in natural law, utilitarianism and progress. The term classical liberalism has often been applied in retrospect to distinguish earlier 19th-century liberalism from social liberalism.

A market economy is an economic system in which the decisions regarding investment, production and distribution are guided by the price signals created by the forces of supply and demand. The major characteristic of a market economy is the existence of factor markets that play a dominant role in the allocation of capital and the factors of production.

Criticism of libertarianism includes ethical, economic, environmental and pragmatic concerns, albeit most of them are mainly related to right-libertarianism. For instance, it has been argued that laissez-faire capitalism does not necessarily produce the best or most efficient outcome, nor does its philosophy of individualism and policies of deregulation prevent the abuse of natural resources. Criticism of left-libertarianism is instead mainly related to anarchism and include allegations of utopianism, tacit authoritarianism and vandalism towards feats of civilization. Furthermore, criticism include left-libertarians' critiques of right-libertarianism and vice versa.

Centre-right politics or center-right politics, also referred to as moderate-right politics, are politics that lean to the right of the left–right political spectrum, but are closer to the centre than other right-wing politics. From the 1780s to the 1880s, there was a shift in the Western world of social class structure and the economy, moving away from the nobility and mercantilism, as well as moving toward the bourgeoisie and capitalism. This general economic shift toward capitalism affected centre-right movements such as the British Conservative Party, that responded by becoming supportive of capitalism.

Conservatism in the United States Conservatism in the United States

Conservatism in the United States is a broad system of political beliefs in the United States that is characterized by respect for American traditions, republicanism, support for Judeo-Christian values, moral universalism, pro-business and anti-labor, anti-communism, individualism, advocacy of American exceptionalism, and a defense of Western culture from the perceived threats posed by socialism, authoritarianism, and moral relativism. Liberty is a core value, as it is with all major American parties. American conservatives consider individual liberty—within the bounds of American values—as the fundamental trait of democracy; this perspective contrasts with that of modern American liberals, who generally place a greater value on equality and social justice and emphasize the need for state intervention to achieve these goals. American conservatives believe in limiting government in size and scope, and in a balance between national government and states' rights. Apart from some libertarians, they tend to favor strong action in areas they believe to be within government's legitimate jurisdiction, particularly national defense and law enforcement. Social conservatives oppose abortion and same-sex marriage, while privileging traditional marriage and supporting Christian prayer in public schools.

Fiscal conservatism political ideology

Fiscal conservatism, also referred to as conservative economics or economic conservatism, is a political-economic philosophy regarding fiscal policy and fiscal responsibility advocating low taxes, reduced government spending and minimal government debt. Free trade, deregulation of the economy, lower taxes and privatization are the defining qualities of fiscal conservatism. Fiscal conservatism follows the same philosophical outlook of classical liberalism and economic liberalism. The term has its origins in the era of the New Deal during the 1930s as a result of the policies initiated by reform or modern liberals, when many classical liberals started calling themselves conservatives as they did not wish to be identified with what was passing for liberalism.

Right-libertarianism, or right-wing libertarianism, refers to libertarian capitalist political philosophies that advocate natural law, civil liberties, laissez-faire capitalism and a major reversal of the modern welfare state. Right-libertarians strongly support private property rights and defend market distribution of natural resources and private property. This position is contrasted with that of some versions of left-libertarianism.

Positive non-interventionism was the economic policy of Hong Kong; this policy can be traced back to the time when Hong Kong was under British rule. It was first officially implemented in 1971 by Financial Secretary of Hong Kong John Cowperthwaite, who observed that the economy was doing well in the absence of government intervention but it was important to create the regulatory and physical infrastructure to facilitate market-based decision making. The policy was continued by subsequent Financial Secretaries, including Sir Philip Haddon-Cave. Economist Milton Friedman has cited it as a fairly comprehensive implementation of laissez-faire policy, although Haddon-Cave has stated that the description of Hong Kong as a laissez-faire society was "frequent but inadequate".

Fusionism philosophical and political combination of traditionalist and social conservatism with political and economic right-libertarianism

In American politics, fusionism is the philosophical and political combination or "fusion" of traditionalist and social conservatism with political and economic right-libertarianism. The philosophy is most closely associated with Frank Meyer.

Political ideologies in the United States

Political ideologies in the United States refers to the various ideologies and ideological demographics in the United States. Citizens in the United States generally classify themselves as adherent to positions along the political spectrum as either liberal, progressive, moderate, or conservative. Modern American liberalism aims at the preservation and extension of human, social and civil rights as well as the government guaranteed provision of positive rights. It combines social progressivism and to some extent ordoliberalism and is highly similar to European social liberalism. American conservatism commonly refers to a combination of economic liberalism and libertarianism and social conservatism. It aims at protecting the concepts of small government and individual liberty while promoting traditional values on some social issues.

Libertarian conservatism political ideology

Libertarian conservatism, Conservative libertarianism, or Conservatarianism is a political philosophy and ideology that combines right-libertarian politics and conservative values. Libertarian conservatism advocates the greatest possible economic liberty and the least possible government regulation of social life, mirroring laissez-faire liberalism, but harnesses this to a belief in a more traditional and conservative social philosophy emphasizing authority and duty. Libertarian conservatism prioritizes liberty as its main emphasis, promoting free expression, freedom of choice and laissez-faire capitalism to achieve socially and culturally conservative ends as they reject liberal social engineering; libertarian conservatism can also be understood as promoting civil society through conservative institutions and authority—such as family, country, religion, and education—in the quest of libertarian ends for less state power.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to libertarianism, a political philosophy that upholds liberty as its principal objective. As a result, libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and freedom of choice, emphasizing political freedom, voluntary association and the primacy of individual judgment.

Economic liberalism political ideology

Economic liberalism is an economic system organized on individual lines, meaning that the greatest possible number of economic decisions are made by individuals or households rather than by collective institutions or organizations. It includes a spectrum of different economic policies such as freedom of movement, but its basis is on strong support for a market economy and private property in the means of production. Although economic liberals can also be supportive of government regulation to a certain degree, they tend to oppose government intervention in the free market when it inhibits free trade and open competition.

Paternalistic conservatism is a strand in conservatism which reflects the belief that societies exist and develop organically and that members within them have obligations towards each other. There is particular emphasis on the paternalistic obligation of those who are privileged and wealthy to the poorer parts of society. Since it is consistent with principles such as organicism, hierarchy and duty, it can be seen an outgrowth of traditional conservatism. Paternal conservatives support neither the individual nor the state in principle, but are instead prepared to support either or recommend a balance between the two depending on what is most practical.

Directly after World War II saw many countries adopt policies of economic liberalization in order to stimulate their economies.

History of conservatism in the United States History of conservatism in the United States

Except briefly in the 1860s-1870s, in the United States there has never been a national political party called the Conservative Party. All major American political parties support republicanism and the basic classical liberal ideals on which the country was founded in 1776, emphasizing liberty, the pursuit of happiness, the rule of law, the consent of the governed, opposition to aristocracy, and fear of corruption, coupled with equal rights. Political divisions inside the United States often seemed minor or trivial to Europeans, where the divide between the Left and the Right led to violent polarization, starting with the French Revolution.

Conservatism has deep roots in Hong Kong politics and society. As a political trend, it is often reflected in but not limited to the current pro-Beijing camp, one of the two major political forces in Hong Kong, as opposed to liberalism, a dominant feature of the pro-democracy camp. It has also become a political view taken by some localist political parties.

References

  1. Madrick, Jeffrey G. (2010) [2009]. "1: Government and Change in America". The Case for Big Government. The Public Square. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 10. ISBN   9781400834808 . Retrieved 23 September 2018. [...] there really is no example of small government among rich nations. The size of government grew across all the world's rich nations, particularly in the twentieth century, and the rate of economic growth only increased.
  2. Martin, A (2011). "Partisan identification and attitudes to big versus small government in Australia: Evidence from the ISSP". Australian Journal of Political Science. 46.
  3. Colebatch, Tim. "Two new taxes are on the way, but we shouldn't complain". The Age. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  4. East, Roger; Thomas, Richard (2003). Profiles of People in Power: The World's Government Leaders. London: Routledge. p. 140.
  5. Thompson, Wayne C. (2008). Nordic, Central, and Southeastern Europe. Harpers Ferry: Stryker-Post Publications. p. 72.
  6. The Hong Kong Experiment by Milton Friedman Archived 2010-05-08 at the Wayback Machine on Hoover Digest accessed at March 29, 2007
  7. "Home - Asia Sentinel". Asia Sentinel.
  8. Rowley, C. & Fitzgerald, R. Managed in Hong Kong: Adaptive Systems, Entrepreneurship and Human Resources Routledge, UK, 2000. ISBN   0-7146-5026-9
  9. Yu Tony Fu-Lai. (1997) Entrepreneurship and Economic Development of Hong Kong. United Kingdom: Routledge. ISBN   0-415-16240-8
  10. "2008 Index of Economic Freedom". Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal.
  11. Economic Freedom of the World Report Archived 2009-03-27 at the Wayback Machine Economic Freedom Network (Fraser Institute) 2007
  12. Harris, Max (2017). The New Zealand Project. Bridget Williams Books. pp. 44–49. ISBN   9780947492595 . Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  13. Cardow, Andrew; Wilson, William. "Privatisation: The New Zealand Experiment of the 1980's" (PDF). Massey University. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  14. Bartholomew, James. The Welfare State We're In. Biteback Publishing. ISBN   978-1849544504.
  15. Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, The Federalist Papers, p. 151, Signet Classics, 2003
  16. First Inaugural Address, given at the Capitol Building, Washington, DC, Wednesday, March 4, 1801
  17. Reagan’s First Inaugural: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”. Heritage.org. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  18. Don't add Reagan's Face to Mount Rushmore Archived 2013-01-10 at Archive.today by Dr. Peter Dreier, The Nation , April 3, 2011
  19. Newport, Frank. "Majority in U.S. Still Say Government Doing Too Much". Gallup. Retrieved 2 June 2013.