Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Just as liberals were wrong to think that Obama's victory meant voters approved of a more activist government, conservatives are wrong to think that Obama's current troubles are indicative that voters want less government in their lives.

Repeat after me, and for as long as it takes to get the point: the public is not philosophically opposed to government nor are they philosophically supportive of government... the public cares only whether they will benefit or suffer as a result of government action. If the public thinks government program X is going to benefit them, they don't care how it comes about, they're going to be supportive of the government providing them with X, and no matter how large that government might be. Conversely, if the public think government program Y is going to be detrimental to their finances and well-being, they're going to oppose the government providing them with Y, no matter how small that government might be.

For example, people tend to support tax hikes if they think they're not going to be the ones taxed and that they're going to benefit in some way from the money being taken from the taxpayers having to pay higher taxes. They support increases in government spending so long as they think they benefit from the roads or whatever the money is being spent on and so long as they don't see their taxes or costs going up to pay for that spending. They support intrusive anti-terrorism efforts at airports so long as they think the benefits of those efforts (keeping them from being blown out of the sky) are greater than the hassle of having to take off their shoes before going through the metal detector.

And the same holds true with businesses. Businesses support government subsidies, provided they're the ones receiving those subsidies and not their competitors. Likewise, businesses support government regulations so long as they feel the negative impact is greater on their competitors than on themselves (examples: Wal-Mart supporting companies having to provide health care to their employees, and Netscape supporting the anti-trust attack on Microsoft).

Obamacare is flopping because Ohama hasn't been able to convince the public that they will benefit from it... and not because the public thinks government is too big.