In the United States of America, we have always known that once the government gets bigger and has a greater role in our lives, the worse it is for us as individuals and society. And the fact that we knew that, was the key to America’s greatness. We have always known that free individuals are supposed to be important and have big roles in society, but that is impossible once the government gets bigger.
Nationally syndicated radio talk show host and author Dennis Prager originally coined the phrase: “The bigger the government the smaller the citizen.”
Everything about the individual becomes less important once the government gets bigger. Individuality gets smaller. Liberty gets smaller. Human character gets smaller. Happiness gets smaller. Even goodness gets smaller.
This idea of big government was never an issue until modern times when concepts of European values have come in to our country. Selling the notion that when the government gets bigger, our society gets better.
That is not the case.
We have always known that we have to have self-responsibility and take care of ourselves. But once the government takes a larger role in our lives, we start to rely on the government to take care of us instead of taking the responsibility to do it ourselves. That is why it is very common in Western Europe (with their big governments) for people to live with their parents until the age of 30. When the government gets bigger, it is no longer that we have to take responsibility and be independent. We rely on the government to do that for us. The idea of taking care of ourselves is a moral demand. We are in fact commanded by G-d to do so. Hillel says: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”
This also means that when the government gets bigger, the less we do for one another. That is because we also depend on the government to take care of our fellow citizens. We have always known that we are supposed to take care of and help our loved ones and then help others in our community. But when the government gets bigger, we count on the government to do that. In most parts of Europe, if you want to take care of you parents you have to go to the government! The idea of the government taking care of our parents is so distant from us Americans. We are in fact commanded by G-d to “Honor thy Father and thy Mother.” But that is impossible as government gets bigger because we start to depend more on the government to take care of our fellow ones. That is why Americans volunteer far more hours and give much more charity than Western Europeans. I believe that it is doing good to take care of others and it is doing good to give charity for the world.
When we have government take care of us and give us so many benefits, we start to tell ourselves that there is no need to work since government is giving us all we need. This also tells us that there is not any reason to work hard for anything since government will fulfill all of our needs in life.
When we have government give so many benefits in order to take care of our lives, we start to feel entitled to the benefits we get. In other words, we start to depend on the free benefits that the government provides us. And once we do not get these things that we are entitled to, we will become very unhappy people. That is why there are so many riots in Europe over the fact that they did not get some of the benefits they felt entitled to.
When people work hard for their earnings, the chances are that they will be more grateful for what they have. People who are grateful are happier people. There is not one happy person in the world who is ungrateful. People who are grateful and happy end up giving more to others. However, when people feel entitled to things instead of working for them and are given something for nothing, the chances are that you will produce ungrateful people. People will be focusing on what more the government can give them instead of feeling grateful. Therefore, instead of feeling appreciative for something, you will feel as if you are owed more. Ingratitude produces unhappy people and does not make a better world.
Once we rely on government to take care of all of our needs and troubles in life, we start to worry about other things such as where we can travel on vacation. We no longer have to worry about working or having to take care of ourselves and our family when government gets bigger since government will do it for us. Our preoccupations start to become more self-centered such as having more vacation time. That is why there are constant riots and protest in Western Europe over receiving more vacation time from the state. Many people also try to prevent working, since working is considered pain to be avoided rather than a duty when being taken care of from the state, that is the reason why there are riots over lowering the retirement age in Europe.
The bigger the government, the less our character develops. Big government is not an American value, it is a European value. The founders of the United States never envisioned a country with a big government, but it was what the founders of the Welfare States of Europe wanted. Whichever one you think is better; it is your choice.