“Limited Government” in Action

It is a standard trope of the Right, at least here in the US, that one of the things that they hold dearest is something called “limited government.”

In the rest of the world, that’s pretty much what the Right wants too, though in the rest of the world, they can’t say that, because the people don’t want “limited government.” So they say other things. In much of the rest of the world, the Right usually has to pledge to battle poverty. In the 3rd World, everyone from all ends of the spectrum usually pledges to battle poverty.

But only the Left ever does anything about it. That’s because in the 3rd World, the Right stands for neoliberalism or unbridled capitalism and mimimal government. Neoliberalism, unbridled capitalism and minimal government are usually not capable of battling poverty. And why should they be? Truth is there’s no money in fighting poverty. In fact, from a capitalist POV, fighting poverty is usually a gigantic money-loser.

Hence, anti-poverty measures are typically undertaken by the state, since the state doesn’t care whether it loses money or not.

Neoliberals often tout economic growth as a poverty fighter, but it doesn’t work very well. Decades of experience with neoliberalism has shown us that neoliberalism usually benefits only the top 20% of the population, if that. In some cases, it’s more like the top 10%.

The neoliberal liars noticed this early on, and said, “Just wait! Neoliberalism takes time to filter down to the masses.” So people waited and waited, and the trickling down never happened. After decades, people not being stupid, they got gave it up and said, “Chuck the neoliberalism.” This is what is happening in Latin America.

Of course, the US, the World Bank, the IMF, most of the Western media still push neoliberalism since it’s great for corporations and the top 20% of the population. But it’s bad for everyone else. So really the media and the US government are con artists who are pulling a fast one on the whole world.

If you’re a big business or have lots of money, neoliberalism tastes pretty good. But for the vast majority of humanity, it’s nothing but a shit sandwich.

In the US, the Republican Party only works for the top 20% of the population, but they can never admit that, so they lie and say they are for everyone. Fools are a dime a dozen here, and there are always suckers buying the GOP snake oil. But if you’re not in the top 20% of the income bracket and you’re voting Republican, you’re nothing but a dumbfuck.

The Asian tigers are held up by neoliberal liars as exemplary examples of the glories of neoliberalism. True, they’ve had great economic growth. But they sure as Hell didn’t do it with neoliberalism.

First of all, they all put into place a comprehensive land reform. This is essential to wipe out feudal relations in the countryside and get rid of rural poverty and hence take out revolutionary sentiment in the rural areas. In addition, after land reform, the nation can often grow much of its own food, and it doesn’t need to import so much food.

Most countries that have not undertaken land reforms are still seriously fucked up.

Any Latin American nation that undertakes a land reform is immediately threatened by the US with aid cutoffs, and the US, via the CIA, usually tries to take out the government in various ways, usually via a coup or assassinations. In this way, US imperialism has prevented development in Latin America. Local elites are traitors who care nothing about the long-term development of their national economies. They live like royalty via feudal land relations, so they always oppose necessary land reforms, and hence, the nation stays backwards and fucked up.

In addition to land reform, the tigers all undertook heavily state-dependent development. Their development was characterized by intense economic nationalism, state-guided development, often social democratic features either provided by the state or corporations themselves as in Japan, and intense economic protectionism until fledgling industries could finally compete internationally. The tigers didn’t use neoliberalism at all. They used the opposite!

Neoliberalism will never develop one country on Earth. It works, in a way, in an already developed country, but everywhere, even there, it has a Third-Worldization effect on the public space.

The best place to look at the effects of limited government is where it’s been tried since Day One: The Third World! If there’s anything that characterizes the Third World, it’s limited government. It’s almost libertarian in that respect. You can see the shithole that has resulted, quite logically, from a gelded public sector in the Third World. Limited government creates shitholes.

Sure, rich people don’t mind living in a shithole. They just create nice little rich people enclaves where they live it up and say the Hell with the rest of the country.

You can actually live pretty well in a shithole with tons of money, cheap hired help, armed guards or a private army, gates or walls around your residence or property, a septic tank, bottled water, a 4X4 all wheel drive and a generator. There are always private schools for the kids, private clinics if you get sick and nice upscale shopping areas where you can buy whatever you want.

You usually pay no taxes either, which is pretty cool. The state, to the extent that it exists at all, is controlled by you and your buddies, and the military and cops are at your beck and call to solve any issues you might have with the hoi-polloi.

Even limited government is not enough for quite a few typically young and moneyed American naifs. They desire the Super Deluxe limited government – full-blown Libertarianism.

Libertardianism is so insane that fortunately it’s never really been tried, except we seem to have a lab experiment going on in Somalia right now. There’s been no state at all there for over a decade now, so it’s full-blown anarcho-capitalism or super-radical libertarianism.

There aren’t even any cops or army. In their stead, obviously, private cops and private armies have sprung up. They even “compete” anarcho-capitalist style, but having continuous shooting wars with each other, the logical consequence anywhere on Earth you have private cops and armies (in effect, warlords). Nothing works, and Somalia’s even more of a shithole than it’s ever been.

There are even some wonderful insurgencies running amok. The insurgents get a lot of support with their calls to “restore order and rule of law.” So much for popular support for Libertardianism.

On most standard scales of fuckedupedness, Somalia is either #1 or in the Top 5.

Way to go, Libertardians, way to fuckin’ go.

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2 thoughts on ““Limited Government” in Action”

  1. Dear Robert
    There is generally a correlation between the size of government and the level of development. The more developed a country is, the bigger its public sector will be. That’s not a coincidence. Governments can only tax the surplus above what is required to live. If 80% of national income is necessary for food and other bare necessities, then the maximum tax base is 20%. If only 20% of national income is required for bare necessities, then the maximum tax base is 80%.
    It is not true that Latin America has very limited governments. Governments in LA may be inefficient, corrupt and biased toward the rich, but they aren’t that limited. For instance, the public sector in Brazil, as measured by the tax burden, is 34% of GDP. That’s not that limited.
    Regards. James

    1. It’s limited government in the Republican sense that the state doesn’t really do anything to help the people. If Brazil had a real socialist state, they would have good schools, good medical care, good roads and infrastructure, clean water, sewage systems, electricity hookups, and they would not have those horrible slums.

      That’s a public sector that’s not working for the people, so it’s the kind of limited government that the Republicans like.

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