How Big Should Government Be?

One of the things that neither party has really talked about is how big government should be?  The candidates speak in platitudes.  But, there are real issues on the ground right now that are a microcosm of what this issue is about.

I read this piece on the rise of Trump and it resonated with me.  There are similarities between the Weimar Republic and America today.  It’s not exact, but if you look hard enough you can see similarities.  Hanson writes, “We seem to be living in a chaotic age, akin to the mid-1930s, of cynicism and skepticism. Government, religion, and popular culture are corrupt and irrelevant—and the world order of the last 70 years has all but collapsed.”  It’s worth your time to read the whole thing.

There was a terrorist attack in San Bernardino.  The government didn’t want to call it a terrorist attack.  They wanted to manage the information, and limit the political damage.  They have turned on a dime, and now want Apple to forcibly open up the phone the terrorist used.  The phone was issued by the government.  This is the road to fascism.

The government threatens Apple with lawsuit after lawsuit.  Soon, government bureaucratic regulators will descend upon Apple to force the company to its knees.  It will have to bow down to it’s regulators.

“The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true,’’ Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote last week in a letter to customers. “Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices…The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements.’’

I am for being able to get terrorists.  But, I would rather err on the side of privacy in an age where it is easier and easier to hack into our private lives. I would also urge everyone to exercise patience and caution and not let the emotion of fear lead to bad decision making.  If there is anything we should have learned post 9/11 it is not to rush into things.  We set up a gigantic government bureaucracy with unprecedented power and it’s not clear we get any benefit from it.

The crux of the debate is not only privacy issues.  The government wants Apple to use it’s employees and it’s time and money to do the government’s dirty work.  Apple should resist.  The government should not be able to commandeer a private company to do its bidding.

We have seen this with the banks.  The Department of Justice has aggressively attacked the banks.  Popular opinion post financial crisis was on their side.  The DOJ has extracted millions of dollars, and terabytes of information from the banks.

In my own hometown of Chicago, the mayor has moved to use eminent domain on a privately owned piece of property because he wants it developed today.   The property is owned by an individual.  The individual is taking his time figuring out what he wants to do with it.  He’s been offered more money than he paid for it and refused to sell.  If government doesn’t like what someone is doing with a piece of private property, they don’t have the right to take it over by force.

Yet, members of my hometown press are encouraging the mayor.  Why is it that government knows better than a private individual?

This is really should be the crux of our election debates this year.  Private property and individual rights over the rights of an overbearing government to enforce its will on people.