«Defending Government: Why Big Government Works» - Free Essay Paper
In the modern community, freedom or democracy is valued and cherished by the citizens and the government. Democracy has been adopted by most countries around the world allowing the relationship between official power and state’s residents to be strong and enhance the lives of the countries. Max Neiman explores the concept of democracy and public trust in his book Defending Government: Why Big Government Works. The aspect of big government by Neiman is explained as the conservatists and liberalists way of defining a government that they think and consider to be massive. This government is usually engrossed in specific sectors of the public and private sector. Throughout the book, Neiman argues how the relationship between the public and the government has eroded despite democracy being granted to every citizen of the USA. He, however, focuses on big government and how it has been beneficial to the country by creating public policies that have provided a better standard of living for the citizens. Neiman argues that such a kind of government works because it has enhanced the economy of the community by increasing public sectors and creating better policies for the society. Thus, the conservative and liberal groups should stop antigovernment campaigns and allow the public to trust the official power once again.
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In his book, Neiman introduces the reader to the discussion of the distinction between governments and governing. The former is defined as the gathering of persons who exercise authority over a group of people, thereby characterizing the society at a particular time. Governing is illustrated as the ability of individuals to make decisions and choices on matters that affect them. Neiman elaborates on the work of conservatism in the society who creates anti governing campaigns that have made it difficult for the government to perform its function successfully. These anti-government campaigns have further reduced the ability of the less privileged in the community to access governing authority (as cited in Borins, 2000). Neiman states that in as much as the voice of the conservatism is needed in the community, it has blocked the government from the effective delivering of its duties to the society. He states that the main argument that is raised by liberal groups is the rapid increase in government and public sector size in the country. They argue that this growth in the public sector is not aimed at helping and benefiting the citizens but rather elevating the power that the government has over the society. The liberal groups, according to Neiman, include talk show hosts, conservative thinkers and foundation,s and corporate sponsors among others.
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In the book, Neiman (as cited in Borins, 2000) is a strong supporter of public policies that have been inspired by democracy. He believes that it is through these policies that the society has continued to benefit and receive protection from the government. Neiman is an immigrant, and he together with his family received citizenship in the USA. This fact helps him to speculate on specific policies such as the domestic policy that allows foreigners to immigrate in the USA and become its citizens. Here, Neiman is showing the reader that big government works because it enforces policies that enhance the living capabilities of citizens.
Different reasons have been provided in the book to explain the growth of the government. Neiman tries to make the reader understand that the increase in the public sector is not meant to intimidate this branch. Taxing and spending are indicated among the primary influencers of the government growth. Taxing is a duty that has been allocated to the citizens, and it aims at motivating the latter to work hard and grow not only the level of their life but also the economy of the nation. These taxes are then distributed among different departments or sectors that provide resources or services to the society. For instance, the criminal justice system, especially the rehabilitation of inmates in prisons, is supported by tax money. Neiman indicates that the government is fair in spending the money it gains from taxes on prisoners because prisoners are human beings and they deserve proper treatment. An increase in taxes influences the growth in the economy. The United States is a capitalist nation, and due to this factor, every individual is engaging in businesses or employed in jobs where they gain wealth. Neiman (as cited in Borins, 2000) states that the revenue that individuals are contributing to the society in the form of taxes has dramatically increased due to this form of the society. Neiman argues that the deficits in the budget provided by the government each time have created a loophole for conservative and liberal groups to form anti-government campaigns. The book indicates that deficits have been present since the start of the 19th century and they are likely not to disappear in the future. Moreover, deficits do not symbolize that an economy is failing but rather, according to Neiman, that the economy is growing, and citizens should be aware of this aspect. Additionally, deficits allow the government to regulate spending and enhance the economy through minimal expenditure in several government departments.
The rapid increase in the size of the government is discussed in the book. Neiman agrees that the government, as well as the economy, has increased over time. The public sector of the USA is, however, small in comparison to other industrialized western nations. It, nevertheless, does not mean that the economy of the country cannot grow. Neiman argues that there is no evidence supporting liberalists’ argument that a large public sector will lead to huge amounts of government spending thereby causing a poor economy (Neiman, as cited in Borins, 2000). The relationship between the size of the government and the economic performance, from the point of view of Neiman, should not be equated to each other. He states that some countries are performing poorly though having small governments (Neiman, as cited in Borins, 2000). The USA has a big government, and yet its economy continues to flourish through the policies created by the lawmakers. Neiman provides data from the 1960s to 1995 for 19 countries to support his statement and show that the growth of the government and the public sector do not correlate as some states indicated a slow increase in their GDP despite their governments continued to expand (Neiman, as cited in Borins, 2000).
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Neiman provides a couple of reasons of why antigovernment campaigns continue to be on the rise. The first factor is the suspicion that the public has towards the ability of the government to rule the country efficiently and produce results that will benefit every member of the society. The less privileged believe that most actions and policies created by the government are aimed at enhancing the wealth of the rich. It is because, in most instances, the policies are intended on the economic sector of the government, and they gradually reduce the power that the poor had when trying to access the government. Neiman argues that the liberal groups have formulated specific ideas to create more suspicion among the public towards the government (Neiman, as cited in Borins, 2000). For example, Neiman states that without taxes, the economy of a country cannot grow successfully. However, liberal groups indicate that the government overtaxes its citizens (Newman, as cited in Borins, 2000). They further claim that the government has threatened social programs such as property rights through the high taxes imposed. Due to this overtaxation, the division between the poor and the rich has been evident.
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Neiman explains the concept of bureaucracy as a reason that the citizens and conservative groups believe to cause growth in the government. Through democracy, people have gained the right to vote for the leader they want, who will not only represent them in the government but enforce policies that will affect them positively. Bureaucracy stipulates that policies and decisions produced by the government are not made by elected officials. Bureaucracy showcases the disability of the government in trying to provide democracy and freedom to their citizens. The United States prides itself as a democratic state with the elected legislature having the capability to create laws and policies that will be beneficial to the country. According to Neiman (Neiman, as cited in Borins, 2000), the public believes that bureaucracies are among the primary reasons why the public is suspicious of the government’s growth. He, however, argues that bureaucratic determinism is used by the government to successfully maximize the budget that it has, thereby reducing the deficits (Neiman, as cited in Borins, 2000). Bureaucracy occurs through the various governmental departments and agencies that strive towards ensuring the protection of the citizens and that the responsibilities of the official power are fulfilled efficiently. Neiman considers that even though bureaucracies expand the government, they are useful to the public and, therefore, the public should not be hostile (Neiman, as cited in Borins, 2000).
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The aspect of democratization is explained as a cause of an increase in the government. Arguments have been identified regarding the relationship between democratization and the government. Fear has been spurred stipulating that if people continue to exercise their democratic rights, the government will be afraid of a mob uprising and, therefore, will increase its influence on the public sector to protect itself. Moreover, other arguments state that through democratization, the mob role will be created pressuring public officials to perform more roles, thereby increasing the size of the government in the process. Neiman (as cited in Borins, 2000) claims that these arguments are misleading as democracy is meant to ensure that every individual in the country regardless of his or her status feels equal and participates in the growth of the nation. He further indicates that social programs have been created from democratization, and the middle-class group in the society has benefited from them more than the low-class individuals. Additionally, the wealthy in the community should not be worried about the democratization process taking away their wealth and providing it to the poor. He states that such activities do not occur in the USA, the capitalist and democratic nation.
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Neiman (as cited in Borins, 2000) furthers his argument on democratization by indicating that the median-voter model, which gives huge power to the majority so that they may have the capability to vote for the leaders they want, has been used to misguide the low class. He states that the majority of power is allocated to the rich, with the poor having little to do with the voting process and electing a leader of their choice. He argues that lobbyists, in most cases, manipulate the results of an election to be in favor of a candidate of their choice. The liberalists groups use the median-voter model to explain the growth of the government. Neiman insists that this notion is wrong arguing that if it was true that the median-voter model increases the growth of the government, then the income equality should be experienced in the USA. He states that democratization is not guaranteed to every individual as the low-income earners in the society participate less in political matters. Neiman (as cited in Borins, 2000) says that if the income equality is provided to the community, democratization is guaranteed.
Neiman (as cited in Borins, 2000) explores the concept of technocracy taking into account the advancement of the USA in IT and the Internet. He acknowledges that most innovators and high skilled technology operators are found particularly in this state. Neiman (as cited in Borins, 2000) notes that there is less redistributivism in the USA compared to European countries because the culture in the country has emphasized individualism. The culture in the USA provides an individual with a talent in fields such as technology to pursue it and use it to his or her benefits as well as the country’s. Technocracy can be defined as a strategy that only chooses persons with knowledge on technology to be involved in the governing team of where they are tasked with decision and policy making. Technically, technocracy states that individuals who are not scientists or engineers and do not have knowledge on technology cannot be in the parliament. Technocracy in the book is associated with bureaucracy where one finds portions or agencies of the government being operated and run by technologists. Neiman (as cited in Borins, 2000) states that the society views technocrats as an expansion of the government that is paid through taxes. He argues that the value of technocracy is not seen and appreciated by the society, though it is vital for the nation, especially considering its upgrades that occur frequently. Neiman insists that technology has allowed the government to grow and therefore, expanding it in this sector only indicates a rise of the economy and social status of the nation.
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Neiman (as cited in Borins, 2000) discusses governmental regulations as another misguided conception about the growth and the expansion of the government. He explains such social and economic regulations in the book. Economic ones are policies formulated by the government to enhance competition among businesses and enhance the growth of specific industries. They ensure that the economy of the country is controlled, and the entry of foreign companies is monitored. Social regulations, on the other hand, are implemented by the government to guarantee that the products being manufactured in a country do not cause any harm to the citizens. It entails protecting the life and the health of the population making sure that they do not bring any harm merely because the economy is growing (Neiman, as cited in Borins, 2000). According to liberal groups, these types of regulations provide more power to the government allowing its growth. Neiman refutes this statement by indicating that these rules are meant to protect the citizens and to secure conducting their businesses in an appropriate and economically stable and safe environment. He explains that without regulations, most companies in foreign countries would bring their businesses to the USA. The state would then have a small government, but domestic companies would not be protected, and this would lead to massive losses and a decline in taxation.
Neiman (as cited in Borins, 2000) supports the acts of the government and evidently defends it in his book. He does not adequately show that big government works. The author focuses his argument on liberal and conservative groups showing how they are misleading the public through the assumptions and the theories that they have formulated. For instance, he spends quite a deal of time explaining antigovernment campaigns that have distorted the government’s image and have resulted in the public mistrust. The big government aims at making sure that the citizens are living a comfortable life, poverty levels are decreased, and the economy of the country is flourishing. Neiman does not explain these essential roles of big government. Neither he shows how the economy and the livelihoods of the USA citizens will improve with big government (Neiman, as cited in Borins, 2000). Neiman instead describes how distrust towards the government has been enhanced. He argues that private sectors exploit the citizens by overworking, underpaying and making them work in poor conditions. Even with these inhuman activities, these sectors are not as distrusted as the public segment, implying the government. He states that individuals are not afraid of the private sector but distrust the public industry, mainly because of the politics surrounding the government.
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An argument on politics and the discussions surrounding it regarding big government are provided as well. Neiman is proud of the democratic rights that citizens have in the political sphere of the nation. He states that the elevation of taxes and devising new economic and social regulations are hard in the current political context. Liberalists argue that democracy creates more space for expansion of the government unknowingly. Neiman (as cited in Borins, 2000) explains that some liberalists are using politics to discourage the public from feeling proud of their democratic right in politics. They mislead the people from their governing abilities, hence reducing their access to social programs that are created for the benefit of the citizens. The public has an automatic disdain and disgust towards the government due to the politics of the nation. It results into them questioning any move by the government because they view it as oppressive towards the public and beneficial to the chosen members of the public. Neiman (as cited in Borins, 2000) believes that the strategies being employed by the liberalist groups to reform the government will lead to a reduction in the ability of the citizens to access the governing institutions, leaving them vulnerable to exploitations occurring in the private sector. Neiman provides certain aspects that must be considered in the future when analyzing the rationality of politics in creating big governments. Such factors include the consequences of market globalization on environmental, finance and labor regulations, and industrial policy.
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Neiman (as cited in Borins, 2000) gives the reader a couple of solutions that, he believes, the government should enforce to allow the rebuilding of the relationship that it had with its citizens. He explains that the process of bureaucracy, which has been used negatively to explain the growth of the government, should be created in such a way that people understand and support it. Bureaucracy should focus on the provision of quality performance that will guarantee that citizens see its advantages. Agencies and departments that form bureaucracy should be accountable for the decisions and policies that they formulate. Neiman also emphasizes on the public officials efficiently performing their duties to ensure that they are trustworthy. Neiman further states that through this trust, antigovernment campaigns will be minimal, allowing the government to execute its responsibilities and roles successfully.