Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Recalling Alexis de Tocqueville's praise of American preference for building voluntary associations to work together rather than relying on government, Niall Ferguson writes in the Wall Street Journal that modern American has become "Planet Government." The suffocating effect is not only felt in the economic sphere but in the decline of intermediary associations on matters of religion and morality, charity and community. It is no accident that nations (and states within the United States) with the largest governmental sectors also become nations (and states) with the lowest levels of charitable giving and of religious faith.
The column ends with a prescient quote from de Tocqueville -- and one can readily substitute "spirit of faith" or "spirit of community" for "spirit of free enterprise here:
Tocqueville also foresaw exactly how this regulatory state would suffocate the spirit of free enterprise: "It rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces [the] nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd."