It has become an American habit to look to political leadership to solve our social and economic troubles. This is especially true in an economic downturn. There are two problems with this: practical and moral. From a practical point of view, state solutions don’t live up to their promises. Government spending drains resources from the private sector while taxes discourage hiring and business formation. Regulation chokes off opportunity. Monetary manipulations create investment distortions and inflation. Regulating labor markets can cause unemployment and higher business taxes to help the poor can cut off a source of wealth generation. The net effect is to lower everyone’s standards of living.
But we should not neglect the moral dimension. Interventions of these sorts make people less secure in their ownership of private property. They also interfere with the freedom of association, preventing people from peacefully cooperating. Also, every government intervention is based on the idea that force will solve a human problem. If you take the approach to its logical conclusion, you end up with a society based on violence, not cooperation. This is the terrible reality that opponents of the market have a difficult time facing. There is nothing wrong with having confidence in one’s government. But the exorbitant faith that people have in the state today really goes beyond that. It can enter even into the realm of religion, as people seek false messiahs to lead them and build golden calves to worship. This is a grave distortion that comes at the expense of authentic faith.
To have exaggerated expectations concerning the ability of the state to perform miracles that only God can accomplish is surely the basis of a false religion. It is an urgent priority to not only educate but also evangelize on behalf of authentic faith, and your continued support of the Acton Institute makes this possible.