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Big government

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Big government is a term generally used by political conservatives
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

, laissez-faire
In economics, laissez-faire describes an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies....

advocates, or libertarians
Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

 to describe a government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 or public sector which they consider to be excessively large, corrupt
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 and inefficient, or inappropriately involved in certain areas of public policy
Public policy
Public policy as government action is generally the principled guide to action taken by the administrative or executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs. In general, the foundation is the pertinent national and...

 or the private sector
Private sector
In economics, the private sector is that part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is run by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, and is not controlled by the state...

. In this latter sense, the term may also be used by political liberals
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 in relation to government policies which attempt to regulate matters considered to be private or personal, such as private sexual behavior.

The term can refer to any of a number of bureaucratic criticisms: government programs where it is argued that policy goals could be accomplished with smaller more nimble organizations, attempts to federalize programs traditionally implemented at the state level, implementing programs that seek to accomplish functions normally associated with the private sector or private organizations (such as non-profit groups or religious organizations), expensive programs that are likely to increase significantly in costs in the long term, subject to cost overruns and poor cost analysis, resistant to reform efforts both internally and externally, large bureaucracies lacking in accountability, limited or no checks and balances on power within the organization, inadequate or inconsistent metrics to verify to efficacy, limited genuine benefits conferred to citizens, cost ineffective (benefits are outweighed by high costs), programs funded primarily by bond packages.

Commentators who use the term are often concerned about government delivery of public good
Public good
In economics, a public good is a good that is non-rival and non-excludable. Non-rivalry means that consumption of the good by one individual does not reduce availability of the good for consumption by others; and non-excludability means that no one can be effectively excluded from using the good...

s, and government involvement in the formulation and implementation of laws and policies concerning civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

, social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

 and social welfare.

Other commentators combine criticism of big government with criticism of "big business
Big Business
Big business is a term used to describe large corporations, in either an individual or collective sense. The term first came into use in a symbolic sense subsequent to the American Civil War, particularly after 1880, in connection with the combination movement that began in American business at...

", "big labor
Big labor
Big labor is a term used to describe large organized labor unions, particularly in the United States....

", "big oil", "big tobacco
Big Tobacco
Big Tobacco is a pejorative term often applied to the tobacco industry in general, or more particularly to the "big three" tobacco corporations in the United States: Philip Morris , Reynolds American and Lorillard...

" and "big pharma".

Counter-arguments hold that governments can fulfill public programs with efficiency, controlling spending and holding personnel or contractors accountable for their performance.

See also

  • Statism
    Statism is a term usually describing a political philosophy, whether of the right or the left, that emphasises the role of the state in politics or supports the use of the state to achieve economic, military or social goals...

  • Forms of government
  • Nanny state
    Nanny state
    A nanny state is the perception of a situation characterised by governmental policies of over-protectionism, economic interventionism, or heavy regulation of economic, social or other nature....

  • Welfare state
    Welfare state
    A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

  • Social engineering (political science)
    Social engineering (political science)
    Social engineering is a discipline in political science that refers to efforts to influence popular attitudes and social behaviors on a large scale, whether by governments or private groups. In the political arena, the counterpart of social engineering is political engineering.For various reasons,...

  • Limited government
    Limited government
    Limited government is a government which anything more than minimal governmental intervention in personal liberties and the economy is generally disallowed by law, usually in a written constitution. It is written in the United States Constitution in Article 1, Section 8...

  • Libertarianism
    Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

  • Night watchman state
    Night watchman state
    A night watchman state, or a minimal state, has been variously defined by sources. In the strictest sense, it is a form of government in political philosophy where the state's only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and the...

  • Minarchism
    Minarchism has been variously defined by sources. It is a libertarian capitalist political philosophy. In the strictest sense, it maintains that the state is necessary and that its only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and...

  • Small government
    Small government
    A Small government is one which minimizes its own activities. It is a concept important to classical liberalism and libertarianism.-In Hong Kong:...

  • Evil empire
    Evil empire
    The phrase evil empire was applied to the Soviet Union especially by U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who took an aggressive, hard-line stance that favored matching and exceeding the Soviet Union's strategic and global military capabilities, in calling for a rollback strategy that would, in his words,...

  • Fascist (epithet)
    Fascist (epithet)
    The word fascist is sometimes used to denigrate people, institutions, or groups that would not describe themselves as ideologically fascist, and that may not fall within the formal definition of the word. The Fascist party that developed in Italy in the 1920s rigidly enforced conservative values...

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