The West is turning against big government – but what comes next?…( A Good Read!)
The struggle to curtail the social democratic state could have ugly consequences
By Janet Daley
There seems to be only one political argument of interest left in the Western democracies: how “big” should the state be, and what are the proper limits of its responsibilities? Abstract as it may sound, this question has had a quite startling impact on the everyday experience – and voting habits – of people in the most advanced countries of the world.
In the United States, the electorate’s considered answer to it has humiliated a president and swept an extraordinary number of neophytes – whose primary attraction was their loathing of government power – into the most powerful legislature in history. In Britain, it has become the dominant theme (in fact, the raison d’être) of a coalition between a Left-of-centre party and a Right-of-centre one, which has managed to achieve a remarkable degree of agreement on the need to reduce – or, at least, to examine rigorously – the role of government intervention in all areas of social life.
The dominant economies of Europe, too, are going through quite momentous re-examinations of the post-war philosophy which accepted the state as an unquestionable source of benevolence and all-pervasive social justice. And this massive reassessment of the role of government has not come about simply because of the economic crisis, and the terrifying degree of sovereign debt which it produced. The governments of what were the richest countries in the world may be broke, but what is interesting is their response to this: the plan is not to make themselves rich enough once again to do all the things that they used to do, but to rethink the whole enterprise so that government never again finds itself so extravagantly overextended.