The Growth Agenda and Its Enemies

That all sounds very good, but restraining the growth of government is easier said than done. So how do we get there? For some sound, practical ideas, we need only look across the Atlantic. The United Kingdom’s coalition government has adopted a plan for growth that includes the creation of dozens of “enterprise zones.” These zones have a reduced regulatory burden on businesses and three-year exemptions on all new regulations for “micro-businesses” -- firms employing five or fewer people — and startups.

America successfully employed Enterprise Zones during the Reagan era and could do so again. One idea, for instance, might be to establish enterprise zones for mineral explorations on federal lands (with the appropriate environmental safeguards), putting those lands to work for their owners — the American people.

Such a growth agenda will be opposed by corporate welfare addicts who have turned to government rather than the consumer as their source of profits. They will lobby heavily to keep their subsidy programs and regulations that protect them from start-up competition. They will be joined in this effort by labor unions, for whom higher unemployment among non-members is fine as long as they can keep their privileges (and dues).

More than ever before, the current debate over the size of government pits powerful special interests against the people. Those special interests are invested in the status quo, and like the regulatory state and the income streams it generates just the way they are. Change won’t be easy. But if we reduce bureaucracy and move the rocks off the grass, the resulting growth will make future generations wonder why we ever walked down the road to regulatory serfdom as far as we did in the first place.