Check out this post and my response below.
I accept that there are things that only the state can do. I think especially, keeping the peace broadly speaking; and second providing for the those who can’t do so. I think that tea parties ignore the latter especially, thinking that small government leads to prosperity, that lead to all boats rising, even for the poorest.
In fact, I think prosperity means change and that often leaves many behind: the older; the less educated; the geographically immobile; those who just can’t adapt for a lot of reasons. Joseph Schumpeter called this creative destruction, and it is certainly a product of capitalism in the past and now. Free enterprise and free exchange and commercial activity is the best path to a wealthy and growing economy; but I also believe it is unable without a state provided safety net to provide for the victim of creative destruction that society as a whole benefits from.
I find it odd that it is often acknowledged that democracy is just the best of the flawed forms of human governance – it isn’t perfect. Few who advocate free enterprise have the equivalent humility to acknowledge that while it is the best way manage resources of the alternative available – but it isn’t perfect. I acknowledge both that market economies are the best way to build a society in the face of scarcity, but both are far from perfect. So I suppose I believe in the strong stem you suggest to provide a softer landing for those left by hand by the progress of capitalism.
That said, I also like constant attempts to move the state out of functions that can be privatized, and I prefer less growth in the stem than more other things equal. I think that at least in more instances education; road; utilities and other functions that have long been left to the public sector could be moved into the private sector to the benefit of most or all. Liberals have in fact promoted airline deregulation and efforts along these lines, but the belief in your strong (and perhaps steadily growing) stem makes that hard at times I think. Finally growth in the stem is inevitably going to concentrate power in that stem, and the history suggests that is risky, the leaders of any state are just human and not always to be trusted. The founders of this nation understood that, and we shouldn’t forget it in evaluating the size of the stem.
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