“Corruption is the one consistent theme of big governments with central ownership of resources.” -Rand Paul on Big Government and Corruption
My Take on Big Government and Corruption
I think he makes many great points about domestic policy and some good ones about foreign policy. However, he sometimes is a bit too dovish and I don’t think he understands why America needs a strong military. But, overall, he still makes some great points.
This quotation of his on Big Government and corruption is one of those. It’s absolutely spot on. Can anyone name a nation afflicted with the plague of Big Government that isn’t also afflicted with the plague of corruption? I can’t.
Corruption in the Axis of Evil
For example, one of the (many) factors holding back China’s military buildup is corruption. Generals would rather steal from the government’s coffers than buy new ships and planes to compete with the American F-35. And, guess what; China is obviously a Big Government nation!
Russia and Iran, both of which are also trying to build large militaries, struggle with the same problem. Because the government owns many of the means of production, corruption is everywhere and hard to stamp out. So, Russia can try to boost its military budget and Iran can have vast regional ambitions, but both are held back because of Big Government economic policies and the corruption that stems from those policies.
Big Government and Corruption in the Americas
Similarly, the Americas have struggled with corruption problems. Read the best book about the Gilded Age, The Republic for Which It Stands, to see how Big Government policies in the Northeast led to infamous levels of corruption.
Before the Gilded Age, America was a small government state that had almost no corruption. That small government was so integral to early America that it became part of the America creed that Huntington identifies in Who Are We? However, we let it slip away and have since been dealing with ever-increasing levels of corruption.
Also, South America, Central America, and Mexico have even worse corruption than we do. Heavy (corrupt) policing and state ownership of resources means that drug cartels have many avenues with which to buy off agents of the government. In Mexico, that has led to it looking like Mexico is a failed state. Read Narconomics to see the scale of the problem.
Everywhere Big Government goes, corruption follows. Even America isn’t immune to either of those plagues.
So, Rand Paul’s quotation about Big Government and corruption is obviously true; evidence from all across the world confirms it. But, why is it true? Why does Big Government always lead to corruption?
I think Big Government and corruption go hand-in-hand for two reasons. The first is that the government (generally) has a monopoly on violence.
Because few people are willing to stand up and fight the government as Thomas Jefferson said to in his quote about the tree of liberty, corrupt bureaucrats are able to get away with heinous pilfering of the state’s coffers.
That is especially true in places like the “Axis of Evil” (China, Iran, and Russia) where there is no 2nd Amendment and citizens have few means with which to even attempt to fight the government. In my opinion, those countries show why the 2nd Amendment is important and why you should own an assault rifle.
The second reason is related to the scale of government resources. When there are trillions of dollars moving around at any given time and the government employs millions of people, many of whom are obviously incompetent, it makes sense that there is corruption. The scale of the Big Government machine makes it almost impossible for there not to be.
What is the solution? To demand the government shrink. Call out government deficits to ensure that fiscal responsibility isn’t gone forever. Demand no new entitlements. Fight back against the creeping advance of the state. And, above all, call out corruption. If we consistently do those things, then perhaps the government will be forced to shrink.