Be careful what you wish for…


… because you might get it.

A news report claims that “COVID-19 is pushing Americans to want more government involvement in their lives“.

A survey taken during the height of the health crisis finds COVID-19 may have pushed more people to want government to play a bigger role in their lives … A team from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins University SNF Agora Institute say support for an active government role in society jumped over 40 percent between September 2019 and April 2020. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in March.

While some policies are still not very popular, a majority of respondents have gotten behind creating more government safety nets for healthcare, unemployment, and income. Nearly 1,500 adults were polled in mid-April regarding 11 government policies including paid sick leave, universal health insurance, income support, business tax credits, and employment education.

The poll, conducted using NORC’s Amerispeak Panel, reveals overwhelming support for reform from those wanting a more active government.

There’s more at the link.

I suppose it’s natural for those who find themselves out of work, and short of money, to want help from those who they see as able to provide it.  Unfortunately, the government doesn’t have its own money.  It has only what it takes from taxpayers (or prints as deficit spending, which must be repaid by taxpayers sooner or later).  In other words, what it hands out to one must be taken back from them, or from another, sooner or later – and we’re the ones who’ll do the paying.  Even if we aren’t paying payroll taxes directly, we’ll pay for it in higher indirect taxation (i.e. sales tax, customs duties, and so on).

The late President Ford issued a prescient warning:

That’s all too true.  There’s an old adage, attributed to many sources, that “Government, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master”.  Once we become dependent on our government for our survival, we basically surrender our independence to it.  Government is then no longer “of the people, by the people, and for the people”:  it’s for the benefit of whoever controls it – and there will always be people behind the scenes who exercise faceless, unfettered and remorseless control.

It boils down to a matter of trust, as we discussed earlier this morningCan we trust government to trust us?  Or will government fundamentally distrust us, and seek to use the assistance it can provide to control us?  I’m afraid it’s mostly the latter.  I’ve seen that at work in the third world, all too often.  A government there will coordinate food aid during a famine, or relief efforts during an outbreak of disease, or help to deal with whatever the crisis du jour may be.  However, there are always strings attached.  If your region didn’t elect politicians favorable to the government, you’ll get a lot less aid than areas that did support the government.  If the government is dominated by one tribe, other tribes will get short shrift.  If your area has natural riches of any sort, the cream will be skimmed off the top of any deal to exploit them – and it’ll go to “connected” officials and tribal leaders, not to the ordinary people of the area.  I could produce endless examples, but you can look them up for yourselves.  They’re endemic.

(Of course, the situation isn’t much different in the USA.  Look at the number of “big government” projects that have resulted in billions being skimmed off the top in graft and corruption.  Boston’s “Big Dig” is a good example.  So is California’s light rail project fiasco.  There are examples in every state, I’m sure.  Corruption seems to go hand-in-glove with government.)

The more we depend on government, the more government will change from being a public servant to a public master.  That’s a very dangerous road to go down.



  1. The CA project wasn't light rail, it was inter-urban High Speed rail to connect LA and SF. An Acela corridor for CA, but done on mostly new track since the existing freight lines don't have the capacity or performance.

    It was a gift to the grifter class from Day One, an an$$$$wer to a question nobody was asking.

  2. Related to the benefits of Big Government, the day the Boston Big Dig opened, a ceiling panel fell off and killed some guy driving to work. Best Minds Anywhere.

  3. Well seeing as all of those people lost their jobs because of the government, I guess they figure the government should help them out.

    They just don't seem to realize that governments only cause problems, not solutions.

  4. That line was not original to Ford, or Jefferson.

    The idea that anybody could trust government to do anything for the people should have died in the French revolution, or the bonus Army.

  5. Peter, ER nurse here. FYI,
    Last January, I started noticing signs of an outbreak of a weird virus in Wuhan China. As you know, they downplayed and stalled till their little package of fun could realize it's full potential and successfully share with the rest of the world. By early February, I pointed out to our manager that I'd checked most of the stuff in our supply room, and discovered it all came from China. The stuff already on the boats was still coming, presumably, but what, I asked, were they going to do after that, when the shipments stopped?
    I was told that it wasnt my concern, shut up, stay in my lane and go back to my trench.
    Well, they no plan, and our supplies dried up.
    In the intervening months, you'd have thought they'd have remedied the situation. But no, we just got an email saying they've run out of N95s, again, with no more in the foreseeable future. And the WuFlu is heating up, again. We just lost a cardiologist last week, a woman from my nursing school a month or two ago. Lots nurses out sick.
    And they're out of PPE.

  6. The problem isn't simply that a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have; it's also big enough to crush you like a bug without meaning to, or even noticing.

  7. "I suppose it's natural for those who find themselves out of work, and short of money, to want help from those who they see as able to provide it."

    The job losses now are *because* the government ordered businesses to be closed. If the gummint is going to tell people they can't work, then they're going to demand that the gummint pay their bills.

  8. @Jimmy the Saint

    Which is fair enough, or would be if the people doing the ordering were on the hook for the cost.

    There’s an idea: tell the Fascist Left they can govern for as long as they are willing to PAY for their antisocial habits.

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