'The Government that Governs Best, Governs Least.' That's true, but it's not the whole truth -- which just shows you how reliable bumper-sticker philosophy can be. What's missing from that analysis is what gets too many libertarians confused.
What's missing is this: Size isn't always important (and just try selling that line after dark). In particular, size is not the primary consideration when judging governments. What is of primary importance is not that government is small, but that it protects individual rights. That, after all, is what government is for - to protect you from me, and me from you. Size is a consequence of that primary role, not the generator.
To protect me from you and you from me -- in other words, to protect our individual rights -- a government needs to be big enough to be able to do that job properly, and it needs to be properly constituted so they don't do you over themselves. There are too many example of small but vicious governments that don't do the job, and some rare examples of big governments that (sometimes) do -- and some very rare but truly exceptional examples of small governments that very often do, and hardly ever don't. In judging them all, small is better, but proper protection of individual rights is best.
As the T-shirt might well say, 'There's No Government Like No Government - Unless it's Very, Very Small, and it Properly Protects Individual Rights.'
TAGS: Libertarianism, Cue_Card_Libertarianism, Politics