Big Government Explained – How to Pay For It?

To the Editor:

On September 12, 2009, the Washington Post ran an article entitled, “Anti-Government Demonstration Draws Tens of Thousands to D.C.” According to the article, thousands of demonstrators are rallying against growing government and over-taxation. What does “Big Government” and “Over-Taxation” even mean?

If Jay Leno was to ask somebody on the street what growing or big government meant, it would be interesting to hear the reply. Maybe they’d say that the United States wanted to take over Canada or Latin America? In reality, what the term is a measure for how much government does for the people, for the citizens, of the nation. Imagine that a government that owned all property, told people what jobs they could or could not take, and stipulated certain acceptable religions. That would be huge government. Nobody advocates that the United States government should become this all-encompassing.

But, should the U.S. government provide insurance to citizens? Those who answer yes want the government to be bigger. Those who want the government to support ailing financial, automotive and other companies support larger government. Though the protesters in Washington, D.C. are against big government, this type of government is not necessarily a bad thing. But, unless you understand what big government means you won’t be able to formulate intelligent thoughts about it.

Why would people be against big government?

Well, for one, big government costs a lot of money. It is expensive to manage all of the programs that some people want the government to run. In fact it costs trillions of dollars. Somebody has to pay this bill. Some advocate that raising taxes is a great way to fund the programs. But, if Americans spend more of their money on taxes they’ll have less money to spend on their own wants and needs. Then again, if some Americans can’t afford their own insurance should they still be entitled to it? Or, perhaps they should be forced to go without it?

The government could go into debt. But, that’s basically taking a loan. Just like everybody else, the government has to pay back its loans. The only difference is that the government can take longer loans than you or me. Instead of paying it back immediately, the government can take a very long term loan that future generations will have to pay back. Future generations might have more money to pay back loans. But then again, they might not.

As you can see, there are lots of questions that have to be answered in considering the size of government and the funding of government. But, it’s better to grapple with authentic questions than to think like some of the people who Jay Leno speaks with on the streets of America.

Andrew Pass

Andrew Pass develops curriculum resources using Google Earth. You can visit his website at He blogs at Source:—How-to-Pay-For-It?&id=2913224

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