Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Foundations of Government

Matthew Continetti has an interesting essay up at the Weekly Standard about the evolution of the American state after the New Deal. While I think there are some pieces missing in his narrative, he has a good point here:
Only later would we come to understand that the house FDR built sits on a wobbly base. Steady economic growth is necessary to pay for all of the government’s promises. The bureaucracy functions only if experts have the confidence of the people. And government and citizenry must agree on a limiting principle that prevents national bankruptcy, a bloated state, and an irresponsible public.
Growth, confidence, and a recognition of limitation---those do seem the foundational pillars of the modern state. Those were the very things that leading Republican presidents of the post-New Deal era (such as Eisenhower and Reagan) sought to build open. I'm more optimistic about the future of many American political and social insurance institutions than Continetti, but his diagnosis of the basis of New Deal government has some merit.

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