Common Sense Capitalism: Milton Friedman: Limiting The Role of Government
If you look at the Federal Government in America and its size post-World War II, we’ve generally spent around 20% of our GDP on the public sector. Defense, law enforcement, foreign affairs, social welfare, etc. And then you add state and local governments, government total in America at all three levels have spent around 30-35 of our GDP on the public sector. And then you go to the Federal, or national Government’s in Europe, except for the United Kingdom, which basically has basically unitarian government without much if any provincial or local governments, they generally spend around 50-60% of their GDP on their public sectors. And that’s just as their national level. It’s even higher then that if you add provincial and local governments. Its higher than that in the Euro States like Germany, Holland, France, Spain. They spend around 50% or more of their GDP on their public sectors.
Scandinavia, spends closer to 60% of their GDP on their public sectors. Especially Sweden and Norway, who’ve traditionally at least since World War II have had socialist governments. Democratic Socialists in charge of their governments, so of course their welfare state’s are going to be a lot bigger. Especially compared with America, or even Canada. The culture in America is just a lot different in America than it is in Europe. The state motto in New Hampshire, “is give me liberty or give me death”. We have a strong liberal and libertarian tradition in our country. We tend to be big believers in limited government and individual liberty. And you keep government limited to protect individual liberty.
Europeans, tend to be collectivist that they are all in this together, we are only as strong as our weakest link. That you need to pay high tax rates to preserve “economic justice”. To make sure no one gets too strong, or too weak. That you need government to provide a lot of social services that you can’t trust the private sector to perform. Health care, health insurance, education, pension, Unemployment Insurance, etc. They like their governments and trust them to do the right things. Whereas Americans, just hope that government doesn’t screw things up. And we don’t tend to trust government and basically want to be left alone to live our own lives.
Americans, have also been lied to a lot by government. Things as serious as national security and war. We’ve had abuse of powers from our government. So we basically have this idea that we want to be left alone to live our lives. And leave government to enforce rule of law, protect the streets and country, keep our taxes down. And help us out when we are down with a hand up, not a hand out to help us get back on our feet. But not try to control how we live our lives. This is what liberal democracy is about. America is very individualist as a country, whereas Europe tend to be collectivist as a society.
What I would say to Socialist Americans that are trying to make America more like Europe, but never really have had the power to do so, because they keep getting out voted by Liberals, Libertarians and classical Conservatives, that one of the reasons why we are an immigrant nation and have always been, which is one of the reasons why we are a country of 310M plus people in the world with the largest economy in the world, is that people come to America to get what they don’t have at home. Individual liberty and economic opportunity. And want that same opportunity to live their own lives as Americans have.