How Do You Know When Government Has Gotten Too Big?

July 25, 2011

No, I do not ask the question without knowing the answer. Government is too big when the lack of government actually prevents people from living their lives. Our founding fathers wanted government to be there to protect people from encroachments to their lives, liberties and pursuits of happiness. When government instead turns from protector of these rights to an arbiter of how we must go about enjoying them is when things go all wonky.

Case in point: The Ugly Mug. This establishment is a bar in Minnesota near the Twins’ baseball stadium. But it has a problem. What problem you ask? Well, The Ugly Mug is running out of beer.

Why is it running out of beer? Does it not have the money to purchase beer? Is there no beer to be purchased? Not quite. The Ugly Mug is running out of beer because the government in Minnesota is shut down. And because the government is shut down they cannot renew their state liquor purchasing card which the state requires for them to purchase beer.

Now with the government at an impasse over spending and budgets since July 1st, the business is unable to continue with its business. Although recent reports as of this article are that Gov. Mark Dayton is finally backing away from his hardcore stance of demanding more liberalism and progress is finally being made. Hallelujah! Guess without booze even liberals were able to see clearly.

Pretty screwed up right? But this is unfortunately not all that uncommon from sea to shining sea here in America. From coast to coast governments and across the fruited plains from the federal monstrosity in Washington on down there are so many onerous regulations that the lack of government actually prohibits people from living their daily lives.

It is a far cry from what our founders envisioned and government meant to protect the rights of citizens. Today we instead have governments, big and small, that control our lives so much that any interruption in government interrupts our lives.

Seriously, is there any legitimate reason why a bar cannot buy alcohol just because the government has decided to take a hiatus while liberals throw a little temper tantrum over not being allowed to spend money they do not have? Not really. That is, unless you are a bureaucrat trying to justify your meaningless life as a government employee and siphoning off a publicly funded salary because you have no skills to offer the private sector.

Its not just bars like The Ugly Mug that suffer from government’s intrusion into realms it never belonged in the first place. Every time a government somewhere shuts down we hear stories that just make you wonder. The most common seems to be about travelers arriving at public parks for long planned vacations only to be turned away by a park ranger who no one ever recalled seeing ever before and shuttered gates.

Really? It’s a park for crying out loud! It is a bunch of trees and grassy fields and dirt trails with the occasional woodland creature. But when the government bureaucrats decide it is time to remind the people who really is in charge, what happens? These places get boarded up and put off limits, that's what.

Oh sure, there are hackneyed excuses as to why this is; from public safety and the lack of park officials to watch over folks to the claim that no one is around to clean up and prepare campsites for visitors. But really, these are all just lame attempts to put a spin on why the public is being inconvenienced by government babies not getting their way.

Government should not be an impediment to people pursuing their happiness. And by the same token lack of government should not prohibit businesses from doing business. That is how we arrive at the simple concept of limited government. It is what is best for all.

But government has gone well beyond those bounds. And government would not have it any other way.

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Copyright ©2011 J.J. Jackson

J.J. Jackson is a libertarian conservative author from Pittsburgh, PA who has been writing and promoting individual liberty since 1993 and is President of Land of the Free Studios, Inc. He is the Pittsburgh Conservative Examiner for  He is also the owner of The Right Things - Conservative T-shirts & Gifts. His weekly commentary along with exclusives not available anywhere else can be found at Liberty Reborn.