The Public Interest

Meta-policies for mega-government

Richard Rose

Spring 1984

BIG government is here to stay. No popularly elected government is going to repeal the social, economic, and defense programs that make government big today. Ironically, even critics of big government find reasons for expanding it; this was demonstrated by the early actions of the Reagan and Thatcher governments, which have unintentionally increased public expenditures. Whatever political perspective is adopted, within the immediately foreseeable future the size of government can only change marginally. The inertia forces that have created big government are not easily stopped or reversed. Even if President Reagan or Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher succeeded in slowing the growth of government, it would still remain big. Keeping government big is not a problem for contemporary politicians; it is a condition that comes with the job.

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