In 1977 the late economic historian Jonathan R. T. Hughes published a book called The Governmental Habit (updated in 1991 as The Governmental Habit Redux). It showed how pervasive government intervention in the economy has been since colonial times. The title captures an important phenomenon. People are in the habit of looking to government -- the only agency that may legally wield or threaten force against non-aggressors -- to get what they want. While earlier generations of Americans were hesitant to ask the local, state, or national government to do certain things (although perhaps not as hesitant as we thought), few modern Americans have any such scruples.Read the full article at the website of the Foundation for Economic Education.
Americans of all classes expect the government (translation: taxpayers) to pick up the tab for services, and the politicians and bureaucrats to compel others to do things they don't want to. Someone must be buying Matthew Lesko's books or he wouldn't keep paying for those irritating television commercials.
People even want the government to do things that are outright dumb, such as compel us to conserve energy.
Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.