Why does the left love big government so much?

This is a question not of political philosophy but one of psychology.

Among the biggest differences between the left and the right is the role, scope, and size of the government. But in the USA the government IS we the people. With only a few restrictions (age, citizenship, criminal convictions, etc.) any asshole can run for office and potentially win. Theoretically any piece of shit can get elected to the school board, city/county counsel, sheriff, state representative, U.S. Congressman, Senator, even President. There is no aristocracy. Fool 51% of the populace (even less in a 3 man race) and you’re in.

So why does the left love the government so much? Business, education, health care. Every liberal I know believes the government can do these things better than anyone else. But the “government” is just a collection of people who convinced 50.1% (or less) of the populace to give them a job, or a collection of people, who, (eventually, going up the chain of command) answer to someone who convinced 51% of the populace to give them a job.
How does that equate into knowing what’s best for the rest of us? And why does a significant number of people buy into this train of thought?


I reject your premise.

They don’t.
Thread over.

Are you really claiming that the left is not in favor of bigger government?

Oops, you forgot to read the thread title!

not to rain on your parade but if you actually look around you can find some rock solid evidence that the right, while claiming to want smaller government, is responsible for massive amounts of increased federal powers.

I’d like to point out a problem with your OP, ignoring the question itself.

It’s not 50.1% of the population, it’s 50.1% of the voters. Important difference, because that could be 5% of the population.

As a “leftist” to some degree, I think the government can do some things better, not all things better, than the public sector. For instance, Highway systems. They’re government run and funded. Yes, they might be more efficient if they were privately operate, for profit, but that would hinder economic growth via transit on the National Highway System – I can’t overstate how important the National Highway System was to our economic development as a country (because we’re so large).

Education, as well, is a system in dire need of reform – but not cancellation.

Healthcare, in whole or in part, can be (not necessarily will be) better run by government because the government isn’t out to profit on the endeavor.

As for government telling me what I can or cannot do in my home? (Firearms, what kind of porn I do/don’t watch, who I have sex with as long as they consent, what I ingest/smoke, etc) The government can go right ahead and fuck themselves with a splintery 2x4 for all I care.

I hope that helps, from a self identified “independent” with both “left” and “right” points of view.

I don’t like your over generalization.

Actually it’s a very generalized attack relying on generalizations and buzzwords. If your starting point is that the government is the people - and I think that’s largely true - you could just as easily criticize the for the platitude that ‘government is not the solution, government is the problem.’ Because that would mean that the people are the problem. And yet you’re focusing only on the left to the detriment of your central point.

In the interest of treating what you say seriously, I will agree that moderate leftists can be very trusting of the government. (So can people on the right, but they’re trusting on different issues.) They can be surprisingly trusting of authority. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen people on the left argue that it’s okay for the military and the police to have weapons but nobody else, even though soldiers and cops are also just people with some training.

And this is where you start to go off the rails, because there’s also plenty of anti-government sentiment on the left. You may recall that the left is usually the side that gets charged with being unpatriotic. A lot of people on the left, and probably few on the right, might disagree with you on this point.

The left thinks the government can run business better than anyone else? What’s the basis for that generalization? I can’t even think of an example where I’ve heard anyone say anything like that. There are people on the left who support a national health care system and there are people on the left who support government control of the education system - although I think you can find plenty of people on the right who also support that - but I don’t know where you’re getting this point about business. Do you think a lot of leftists want the government to nationalize all industry in the U.S.? They’re usually in favor of strong regulation, but that’s not really in the same universe as saying the government can do business better than anyone else.

It’s unfortunate that the right has turned this into a smear. It’s self evident that people don’t always know what is in their own best interests, particularly when it comes to evaluating the long term consequences of their actions. Used properly and with restraint, I think the government can have a role to play in encouraging people to make better decisions. I don’t think that, or regulation of industry, should be interpreted as “knowing what’s best for the rest of us.”

Oh yeah, thanks for pointing that out marley…

No aristocracy my ass, 2nd generation senators? 2nd generation PRESIDENTS!?!? We have an aristocracy, as much as any other nation. It’s easier to break into, or fall out of, but it exists no less. And just because it’s easier, doesn’t mean it’s easy, to get into or out of.

And this differs from the rest of the western world how exactly?

So it is your view that the greater the degree of democracy, the less trustworthy the government? :dubious:
Incidentally, have you ever heard of Anarchism? It is usually considered a far-left political philosophy.

The government isn’t the people, the government is an institution that rules over the people, with representatives that are chosen by political parties, special interests, and money.

And both the progressive left and the neocon right support big government in somewhat different ways. I don’t.

In terms of pro-big-government voters, the main argument is simply that there’s a lot of evils out there that need regulation, or they’ll do wrong things… stuff to protect the enviroment, protect consumers from corporations, etc.

In terms of elected leaders, both sides have a tendency to be pro-government. Bush Jr. undersaw a huge increase in government expenditures during his administration. It’s easy to understand - people in power like exercising it.

Of course, there’s always the problem with confounds. Are we talking just stuff that costs money, or controls? 'Cause there’s a LOT of rightists who would love to have the government come in a regulate stuff like abortion, religion, immigration, pornography, etc… all that can be seen as just as much “big government” as spending tax dollars.

Since it is generally held that one cannot get any further left wing than various strains of anarchism, I move that the OP is eo ipso trippin’.

Strangely enough so is the free market. The difference being the market is primarily people making decisions in their own best interest, whereas in the government people are making decisions for both their own and the collective interest, which if we’re to believe the theories of John Forbes Nash Jr, is a more effective approach. So with healthcare as an example, in free market most nobody gets good care, but with a government run system everybody gets covered and I get to fuck the blonde. I think that’s how that theory worked.

The OP is so far off base that I don’t even know how to respond.

Why does the right love the government so much? Sex, romance, religion, speech; the Right believes the government can do these things better than anyone else.

If the Left loves “big government” so much more than the Right does… why has the government historically grown more under Republican Presidents than under Democratic Presidents?

It seems to me that the OP has completely swallowed yet another right-wing “big lie”.

I’ll bite, here are some reasons you might should choose the government over private industry:

1.) Monopsony: gives the government incredible bargaining power to bring down prices, particularly good when the items are essential like medication.

2.) Monopoly: Imagine if we had let individual companies set up their own power systems. Verizon would use 4 phase 90V and you’d have to buy their appliances, ATT would be the largest and use 2 phase 240V but then go out of business. You’d have multiple sets of power lines. Or one company owning the power lines so no one else can offer electricity. When you move you’d have to get all new stuff. Having the government as a monopoly allows for the establishment of one system, 3 phrase, 60hz, 120V.

3.) Universal part 1: When you want to provide a system to everyone, you end up needing government. Running electrical lines is expensive, leave it to private industry and they’d run the best lines to the most profitable areas, leaving those on the outskirts without power. Similarly the postal system is set up to deliver mail to everyone, even in unprofitable areas. Stamps are one price to go every where.

Universal part 2: Churches are excellent at providing charity–to a select group. Private corporations are great at raising money for a cause–but it’s their chosen cause. As a result, you get examples like breast cancer being able to raise vastly more sums than prostate cancer or pancreatic cancer. But the latter two cause more death. And objective decision would look at where the money NEEDS to go. Private industry needs to do what makes sound business sense; so raising money for breast cancer is good, prostate cancer not so good. You also get cases where funding has conditions like preventing condom use. Government is require to provide services universally, independent of race, religion, etc.

4.) Non-profit: Combined with the above three let’s government provide services is a way that private industry cannot. Removing profit from the main decision process can at times provide better results. Think about the last time you made a purchase, the cheapest rarely provides the best value.

Examples: I mentioned the power grid (3 phase across the country), the highway system (everyone on the right hand side of the road) was also mentioned, education (everyone learns English), health care, even the phone company, public transit, trains, airlines. When you need to provide a system with more universal access, at a lower cost, you need an organization that has more control, and better buying power.

As a funnier example: During the development of Australia, each state set it’s own railroad width, so trains weren’t able to between them. Complicated transfer stations were required. That sort of mess happens when you lack centralized planning. Sydney also has a fun case where the subway line to the airport is privately owned and costs $26! Their public transportation is phenomenal, but not quite universal. The buses are one system, the monorail another, light rail a third. Then there is a subway and ferry system. Put all that under one system has significant advantages.

Conclusion: Private industry has their own specific decision making process, that starts and ends with profit. It works great for quite a few things, but terrible for others. Government, on the other hand, has an entirely different decision making process, terrible at some things but considerably better at others. True *enlightenment *is knowing what tool solves what problem.

Just one simple question concerning a couple of examples - how does this quoted statement comport with the establishment of the Dept of Homeland Security, and the construction of the Ronald Reagan building in DC - both accomplished under Repub administrations and (my understanding) never objected to by “the right”?

IMO, EVERYONE of every political stripe loves some aspects government and dislikes others. Most often ISTM that people seem to support the elements of “big government” that they see themselves personally benefitting from, and consider wasteful programs that benefit people other than themselves.