After the Great Depression and, later, during the 1970s, the government’s functions have expanded significantly, covering almost every imaginable aspect of individual lives. For instance, one would need a government’s license to become a private tutor or construct a new building on their property (Harper & Leicht, 2015). The federal and state authorities involvement in the economy has also grown with the expansion of social security programs and increases in taxation to cover these additional expenses. Some people may argue that these measures restrict individual rights and handicap the market economy. This essay will consider the expanded government’s functions and discuss whether they are actually of great benefit.
It might be convenient to separately address measures related to exercising control over people’s private lives (which some consider excessive) and ones related to increased government intervention into the economy. Some people argue that the government should minimize its involvement in certain areas. For instance, they suggest that restricting the number of pets an individual can own puts unnecessary restrains on their will. However, looking at this problem not from the perspective of a person who wants to own many dogs but from their neighbors’ perspective, one might change their opinion on that matter. Living in densely populated urban environments, people still deserve as much peace as they can get. Therefore, they would not like to wake up at night hearing several dogs barking (or music playing loudly) in their neighbor’s apartment. Thus, by introducing restrictions on the number of pets per household or the hours when it is allowed to listen to music, the government ensures the public interest.
There are also explanations for other requirements it imposes. For instance, professional licensing provides for the quality of the services an individual receives. Hiring a plumber or a tutor, they can be sure that the specialist’s identity and education have been checked. It also ensures that all agreement violations or cases of negligence are timely addressed. However, these practices also allow the government to tax wage-earners. Therefore, it is necessary to address the expansion of its interference into the economy.
There are several aspects of concern related to this process. One is connected to the dangers associated with protectionism. While some citizens are worried that the process of globalization can reduce their job opportunities, they, at the same time, are unlikely to be eager to spend much more money on products produced locally compared to ones manufactured in a country where labor cost is much lower (Harper & Leicht, 2015). Therefore, the government’s attempts to introduce protectionist policies on a larger scale are unlikely to be met enthusiastically.
The necessity of another aspect of the government’s economic intervention is more debatable. The expansion of social security programs has helped to lift many over the poverty line. Some studies even suggest that welfare state policies can be associated with lower suicide rates (Rambotti, 2020). However, it became a burden on an average taxpayer, and this is predicted to become even worse as the nations society is aging (Social Security Administration, 2018). Therefore, while social security programs appear to be necessary to provide support to those who require it, they might be increasingly challenging to exercise. The public’s concern can also be explained by the characteristics of the US’s taxation system. As opposed to “the continental European model” that relies significantly on redistribution of wealth, in the USA, all forms of taxation appear to be more of a burden to average Americans rather than to rich people (Harper & Leicht, 2015). Therefore, some may argue in favor of the European model.
On the other hand, this would give even more power to the government’s hands, with which many people would disagree. They defend the free market economy, insisting that the government’s involvement restricts opportunities for its development. Moreover, not all practices can be effective. For instance, the research identifies some drawbacks of the government’s policies aimed at stimulating homeownership (Floetotto et al., 2016). Therefore, while some regulations can be required, the government should avoid large-scale interventions.
Another controversy relates to the expansion of national security programs, which implies closer surveillance over individual citizens. While it is necessary to ensure public safety, unrestricted government control can be quite costly for taxpayers and dangerous for their privacy. For instance, The Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal indicates the necessity for the public to oversee the government’s operations in that sphere (Chesney & Citron, 2019). Thus, while there are several areas, such as social security, in which expansion of the government’s functions can be, albeit challenging, beneficial, further development of intrusive national security programs is much more undesirable.
To conclude, the expansion of the government’s functions is a controversial issue with people’s opinions varying greatly depending on their political beliefs. On balance, it is possible to suggest that although there are some questionable or unsuccessful policy decisions, some of the debatable functions have, indeed, their purpose. Therefore, it might be better to discuss the government’s expansion not as a single process but as individual policies that should be reviewed and discussed separately.
Chesney, B., & Citron, D. (2019). Deep fakes: a looming challenge for privacy, democracy, and national security. California Law Review, 107, 1753-1820.
Floetotto, M., Kirker, M., & Stroebel, J. (2016). Government intervention in the housing market: Who wins, who loses? Journal of Monetary Economics, 80, 106-123.
Harper, C. L., & Leicht, K. T. (2015). Exploring social change: America and the world. Routledge.
Rambotti, S. (2020). Is there a relationship between welfare-state policies and suicide rates? Evidence from the US states, 2000–2015. Social Science & Medicine, 246. Web.
Social Security Administration (2018). The annual report of the board of trustees of the federal old-age and survivors insurance and federal disability insurance trust funds. Web.