It's all Roosevelt's fault

Cite this Article
Geoffrey A. Manne, It's all Roosevelt's fault, Truth on the Market (July 03, 2006),

My friend Seth Weinberger over at Security Dilemmas has a great post on why the left is actually to blame for the post-9/11 national security apparatus it (and many others) hates so much.  Basically, it comes down to “when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  When bigger government is your answer to every problem, don’t be too surprised when big government tries to actually solve every problem.  And, as Seth points out, in this regard, the right has happily capitulated (the Republicans are laughably far from being the party of Reagan anymore).  So for the moment the government is being enlarged in the service of the particular problems that the right (the party in power just now) wants to solve.  But the modern path to this ever-expanding use of power — the justification and the moral basis — was paved by the Big Government lefties (oh, sure, and Nixon.  But he was just ahead of his time).

So here’s my question (this version is really for the left, but there are analogues for the right):  Why, if “Big Oil,” “Big Pharma,” Wal-Mart and Microsoft are so scary, does it make sense to turn to the biggest of the big, the most oppressive of the oppressive, to constrain those other big baddies, to keep them from getting too big, too powerful?  Is there anyone who really has so much faith in our democratic process that despite, say, the legal monopoly on the use of force and the ability to print money, he is worried less about “Big Government” than about “Big Tobacco”?  I don’t get it.  Don’t get me wrong:  I realize the biggest of the big is a really effective hammer with which to pummel all those pesky nails.  But is it so hard to see the broader, bigger, long-term implications of consistently handing over that power to the government?