Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Limited Government.

Abraham Lincoln is reported as saying that government “should do those things which the people cannot do themselves, or not so well themselves”.

But government, especially in the Australian ‘mixed economy’ context, gets involved in so much more than the minimum suggested by Lincoln.

If we want to truly reduce both the cost of government, and the intrusion of government into people’s affairs, perhaps that concept bears some thought?

What if our economy was organized so that government was not the first entity expected to provide services? If, instead, the individual was encouraged to be far more independent, than is currently the case. (For example, as superannuation changes the expectation that government will provide in old age, so that concept could expand to include more provision for funded unemployment insurance).

Extended families might get more involved in childcare, and aged care. The process of privatization of things like energy, and telecommunications may widen in scope.

In government itself, we have 3 tiers of government. Do we really need a health portfolio at both the state AND federal level? Surely one level of government (state level) should be able to handle health care. If people were to be expected to do what they can for themselves, then should not government services be handled at the lowest, most efficient and responsive level possible?

I have no problem with the concept of 3 tiers of government. I DO have a problem when those tiers duplicate effort (as in health and education).

If individuals did as much for themselves as possible, and if required services were handled at the lowest level possible thereafter (family, co-operative community, service sector market orientated businesses, government services provided at the lowest tier), imagine the savings in tax, and the reduction in government intrusion in our everyday lives this would make possible.

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