“Progressives,” and even traditional liberals, would argue that while government may have the potential of being force multipliers for evil, they are also irreplaceable force multiplier for *good*.
Devil’s Advocate analogy: The Nazis used railroads to haul prisoners to concentration camps…clearly, railroads are a force multiplier for evil….should we therefore abolish railroads?
and moving from analogy to reality:
Large-scale government resulted in Stalin’s slave-labor projects such as the White Sea canal. But large-scale government also resulted in the flood-control and power-generation projects of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Should we not do the second because of the first–and who, absent big government, would execute things like flood-control works?
There needs to be a crisp and concise response to this kind of challenge.
My main problem with answering this question is that crisp and concise are not my forte. Still, I’ll try:
Not always, but often, private industry can build infrastructure if it’s allowed to profit from it (in which case it usually does the job better than government would). Moreover, even the most libertarian of us wouldn’t quarrel with the premise that basic infrastructure is a core government function. For example, it’s reasonable for government to build roads to ease commerce or, as happened in the 1950s with the interstate highways, to allow the military to move swiftly in America’s defense against foreign enemies.
Only government, however, which controls the police and military forces, can commit murder on a mass scale, not in the tens, hundreds, or thousands, but in the millions, tens of millions, and potentially even the hundreds of millions.
In other words, when it comes to good things, such as basic infrastructure, private industry can often carry the load (curtailing government’s reach) or government, when it acts, does so consistent with its most basic obligations. When it comes to evil, such as mass murder, imprisonment, torture, and limitations on speech and religion, only big government has the power and reach to carry out evil acts on an epic scale.
Here’s one other thought: As I pointed out in my “force multiplier” post, all big governments have asserted and always will assert that their acts are compassionate. They are acting “for the workers,” to “keep the peace,” to “save the nation’s soul,” etc. Regardless of motives, though, it is government’s manifest destiny, unless specifically and firmly curtailed, to grow larger and, once it reaches critical mass, to become tyrannical.
Finally, I’m not the only one thinking about the problem of big government and the problem of those who will never think it’s big enough: