Thomas Lucente: Big government is killing us


By Thomas Lucente - [email protected]



For those who pay attention, the government does things almost every day that reminds us of how silly it is to support big government.

Last week, the evidence was astounding.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have joined forces to reduce the amount of food that is wasted in the United States. The claim is that Americans waste about one-third of our food.

Of course, much of this waste comes from government regulations that dictate when companies must throw food away.

This is the modus operandi of big government. It creates a problem then, with much fanfare, announces a new government program that will cost millions or billions of dollars and will, naturally, further reduce the liberties of its citizens but, of course, it is for the common good.

Then there will be the cheering from the leftists who tell us we need to do this for the children. Oh, and climate change.

Then, down the road, the solution causes another problem and the cycle repeats itself. Government grows bigger, liberties shrink and the leftists cheer the step closer to socialism.

This cycle and its harm to the people is easily quantifiable.

The Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report came out last week and the news is dire for the United States.

The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 16th in the world, a steep fall from second place in the world rankings in 2000.

During that same period in which the United States has dropped from No. 2 to No. 16, our national economic output has also fallen precipitously.

Since 2000, per capita gross domestic product growth in the U.S. has been 0.9 percent per year, compared to 2.3 percent per year in the previous 50 years. At 2.3 percent growth we double in wealth every generation. Unfortunately, at 0.9 percent it takes us close to a century to double.

Why the drop in economic output and economic liberty?

“A weakened rule of law, the so-called wars on terrorism and drugs, and a confused regulatory environment have helped erode economic freedom in the United States, which has now fallen behind more economically free countries such as Qatar, Jordan and the U.A.E.,” said Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom with the Fraser Institute.

In other words, big government.

It’s no accident that our economic growth matches up pretty closely with the growth the Federal Register, the book in which federal regulations are recorded.

The 2014 Federal Register contains 77,687 pages, the sixth highest page count in its history, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Among the six all-time-high Federal Register total page counts, five occurred under President Barack Obama. The George W. Bush administration averaged 62 major regulations annually over eight years, while the Obama administration has averaged 81 major regulations annually over six years.

These regulations pose a real cost to our economy. According to the CEI, federal regulations cost Americans an estimated $1.88 trillion in 2014 in lost economic productivity and higher prices.

In fact, the federal regulatory state is so large that even the government doesn’t know how many bureaucratic agencies exist.

With this decline in economic output and stagnant wages, Americans lose economic liberty.

Indeed, only three other countries have had larger declines in economic freedom since 2000, Venezuela, Argentina and Iceland. Nice company.

Meanwhile, nations such as Jordan and Qatar enjoy greater economic freedom than the United States. We are likely to be soon passed by Romania, which has been implementing economic reforms such as a flat tax and has seen its economic freedom grow as a result.

Every American should be disturbed by the bleak picture these numbers paint.

This is the end result of the leftist philosophy that pushes big government as the solution to every perceived social ill, even those caused by previous government solutions to problems.

Clearly, to any thinking person, the data prove that the best way to improve both liberty and economic growth for all is less regulation and less government.

Remember this when choosing your next president.

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By Thomas Lucente

[email protected]

Thomas J. Lucente Jr. is an Ohio attorney and night editor of The Lima News. Reach him by telephone at 567-242-0398, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @ThomasLucente.

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