Thursday, August 19, 2010

Smaller Governments = Bigger Societies

David Cameron prepares to deal a staggering blow to statism

David Cameron has made more than his share of mistakes since assuming the office of Prime Minister of Britain.

There is, however, one thing Cameron is unquestionably doing right: he is pushing back against Britain's encroaching statism, and confronting it with a challenge that will prove enduring if successful.

Cameron calls it the "big society", and Britain is responding.

As the government prepares to referse the over-bureaucratization of British society that was fostered by the scientific over-governmenment techniques adopted by Tony Blair -- wherein "indexes" were used to apply a government mandate to nearly everything under the sun -- Britons are embracing the empowerment of the Big Society, doing everything from starting and funding their own affordable housing developments to starting their own schools.

Even the London School of Economics seems excited.

"For those in the United States who would like to see smaller government, you've got to believe that David Cameron is their kind of politician," gushes LSE economist Tony Travers.

And Cameron is prepared to deliver on a very fundamental level.

"The Big Society is about a huge culture change, where people, in their everyday lives, in their homes, in their neighborhoods, in their workplace, don't always turn to officials, local authorities or central government for answers to the problems they face," Cameron has publicly explained.

Not all of Cameron's proposals are perfect at face value. Allowing "free schools" to set their own curriculum could be fraught with difficult issues -- some limits will remain necessary on what such schools can add to or remove from the curriculum.

But provided that these details are addressed, the Big Society promises to strike a staggering blow against statism -- and many Britons seem perfectly content to help him do it.

Not all Britons are prepared to abandon statism. Many opponents of the Big Society denounce it as a Margaret Thatcher-esque attack on government.

Supporters respond: why, yes it is.

What opponents of the Big Society have forgotten is that governments don't build societies -- communities do. Communities that are formed when individuals come to together, whether by birth or choice, and stay together by choice.

Governments can't make people work together by choice. The only way to accomplish this is to put power in the hands of citizens.

Smaller governments make bigger societies, espeically when citizens buy in.

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