February 28th, 2012 // 10:03 pm @ Oliver DeMille
Globalization is changing the demand on governments around the world. Since the advent of the nation-state in 1648, the purpose of national government has been to protect its citizens from attack by international forces and domestic criminals.
Local government has focused on providing the various needs of citizens as deemed appropriate by voters and constitutional by the courts, and together these two levels of government (national and state in the U.S.) have been responsible for certain limited roles; the rest was left to private institutions and citizens.
With the growth of internationalism in the twentieth century, many governments took on the additional responsibility of helping its citizens prosper through the use of diplomacy, military strength and multilateral decision-making abroad.
Such responsibilities included, for example, the safety of citizens traveling the world, the protection of international investments by domestically-owned corporations, and the maintenance of trade and low prices in important commodities (from sugar to petroleum).
Where internationalism added a few such roles to many national governments, globalism is rewriting the entire purpose of government.
And where internationalism assumes a world made up of various separate nations with individual sovereignty and diplomatic arrangements between equals, globalism is based on a different perspective.
In the globalist view, we live in one world, everything that happens everywhere affects us all, and government should care for citizen needs by taking action around the world as needed to protect and promote the best results for its constituents.
Basically nothing is off limits.
This adds numerous implied responsibilities to governments that embrace the globalistic worldview.
For people who believe government should be limited to the authorities explicitly delegated by the people in the Constitution (as I do), this is a disturbing development.
It is becoming a concern for everyone as time passes.
On a technical level, the U.S. Constitution allows the federal government to engage in and ratify treaties with other nations, and when this occurs these treaties become part of the de facto constitutional structure of our nation.
In the era of internationalism (beginning around 1913 and expanding ever since, especially after 1944), the treaty powers have been used to drastically change our Constitutional model.
This is part of the “fine print” of our Constitutional society, and it has been ignored by almost all ordinary citizens.
But the shift from internationalism to globalism is a significantly bigger change (in size and also scope) than the shift from nationalism to internationalism.
Under the new values and ideals of globalism, the role of government is, well, everything it deems desirable.
This viewpoint is fundamentally the end of limited government.
Government in the global era is expected to survey the world, see needs, debate and vote about them, and pass legislation or issue executive orders to deal with whatever the government deems advantageous—the Constitution notwithstanding.
This includes taking action at the most local and personal level, including in peoples’ homes and family decisions, and also at the macro-level in any and every corner of the world.
This is big government gone über.
In this view, government should do whatever is needed to accomplish whatever it considers popular or important.
The courts are allowed to sort out whether or not such action was acceptable, but only after the fact. No checks stop such government action and no balances are required before the government can act.
This is more than big government; it is closer to the philosophy of governance that Hobbes called Leviathan.
No wonder the government hasn’t yet figured out quite how to respond to this changing sense of the state’s proper role.
Congressman Paul Ryan argues that the federal government doesn’t have a tax problem but rather a spending problem, but according to this new viewpoint of globalism the U.S. is going to have to spend a lot more—a lot more!—in the years and decades ahead to fulfill its proper role.
From this perspective, our federal spending spree is just getting started, and the only way to meet the need is to fundamentally reform taxation and get the upper and upper middle classes to foot the bill for a globalist government run from Washington.
In this outlook, we’ll need to keep raising the budget every year and the required spending is deeply underfunded.
Only massive increases in taxes can get us moving in the right direction.
The old debate between Conservatives and Liberals just doesn’t rise to the level of this new challenge, and the current energy in Washington is focused on a globalistic agenda that anticipates drastic increases in government for decades to come.
Georgetown University’s Charles A. Kupchan, wrote:
“A crisis of governability has engulfed the world’s most advanced democracies. It is no accident that the United States, Europe and Japan are simultaneously experiencing political breakdown; globalization is producing a widening gap between what electorates are asking of their governments and what those governments are able to deliver.” (Foreign Affairs, January/February 2012)
Globalism is leading to a natural decrease in the living standard of developed nations, and citizens of such nations are turning to government to help bring back the lifestyles they’ve grown accustomed to enjoying.
As the lower and middle classes of the world join the global economy, and as competition for investment and credit is spread around the globe, the special benefits that the middle classes in advanced nations have carved out for themselves are becoming unsustainable.
The middle class was created by generations who worked very hard to earn such benefits, but their posterity seems to prefer keeping these same perks without putting forth the same effort.
When this doesn’t work, they want their government to simultaneously block immigrants from “taking our jobs” and also find ways to maintain their parents’ lifestyle without having to earn them the same way earlier generations did.
Except for the entrepreneurial class—and government is increasing the barriers to entrepreneurship.
This is painful.
And it forces a choice at the voting booth: either more freedom coupled with harder work on the one side or higher taxes on the rich combined with more government benefits on the other.
The “government fix” approach is predictably more popular.
The real answer is to re-establish a truly free system, where the government limits itself to the authority outlined in the Constitution and the laws are altered to re-emphasize true free enterprise where the laws treat everyone (lower, middle and upper classes) equally.
Freedom works, and a refocus on freedom will once again make America’s economy the envy of the world.
Capital, investment and entrepreneurialism aren’t fleeing the United States because of globalism but because Washington’s policies have made the U.S. economy less profitable and attractive to business.
Unless the United States returns to a genuine free-enterprise model, our long-term economic trajectory will decline.
The battle has changed, though most people haven’t realized it yet.
Now it’s less about Left vs. Right and more the burgeoning issues of Free Enterprise vs. Globalism.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.