Sunday, December 5, 2010

Limited Government vs. Free Enterprise

A lot of folks, including many tea party activists, say they're for limited government and free enterprise. I'm not.

If by "government" you specifically mean civil government, then okay, I'm for limited civil government. There are other forms of government, such as self-government and family government, that enter into the picture of human governance, but I'll stick with civil government in this post, since that's what most folks mean when they refer to "the government." Overall, I'm for balanced human governance.

If you consider "free" enterprise as completely unrestrained enterprise, then I'm against it. There are countless examples of how we're all better off due to some limits on enterprise, such as not allowing companies to put sawdust in milk (yep, that really happened, on purpose, to make the milk thicker), not allowing companies to impose sweatshop conditions on workers, and not allowing companies to discriminate against employees or customers based on skin color.

So, I'm for limited civil government and limited enterprise. However, there's a big, huge, colossal difference: Regarding civil government, we do best when we are cautious in what powers we grant to it; and regarding enterprise, we do best when we're cautious in what constraints we impose on it.

Give the civil government too much power, and we will all be its slaves. Impose too many severe restrictions on private business, and we will all be paupers.