Many Different “Problems,” Identical “Solution” in Every Case

  • Terrible working conditions
  • Lots of poor people
  • Industrial and financial instability
  • Economic depressions that won’t self-correct
  • Inadequate supplies of “affordable” housing
  • Widening economic inequality
  • Racial and ethnic discrimination
  • “Market failures” of many kinds
  • Environmental degradation
  • Threatened or disappearing species of animals and plants
  • Global cooling
  • Global warming
  • Climate change

These are among the many problems that people have perceived as plaguing economically advanced societies during the past century or so. They differ greatly and involve different causes, mechanisms, and consequences.

Yet in every case the solution has been widely seen as the same: vastly enlarging the power of government. It’s almost enough to make a skeptic wonder whether each perceived or proclaimed problem has been intended from the start to serve as a pretext for a government power grab—especially when one appreciates that somehow the problems that enhanced government power is supposed to solve never get solved to the satisfaction of those who sought the power, but only cry out in their view for even greater augmentation of government power.

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, author or editor of over fourteen Independent books, and Editor at Large of Independent’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.
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