“We hear a lot about ‘too big to fail’ banks and other financial institutions,” says Jordan Ballor in this week’s Acton Commentary. “But what about a federal government whose size and scope have become so vast as to crowd out civil institutions?”

The existence of banks that are too big to fail is in significant ways the result of the actions of a government that is too big to flourish. Even a cursory glance at the federal spending figures over recent decades, and particularly over the last few years, is sobering. For the first time since 2008, the 2013 federal budget deficit is projected to be below $1 trillion, a surge of debt that has ballooned the federal debt to nearly $17 trillion. Even this most recent dip below a deficit of $1 trillion to $680 billion represents a historically high level of additional debt. Federal spending labeled “mandatory,” including outlays like Social Security and interest payments, has increased from roughly 6 percent in 1963 to nearly 15 percent of GDP fifty years later. These increases in unsustainable patterns of spending are driven largely by increases in entitlements: from 2002 to 2012 spending on Social Security increased by more than 35 percent, while Medicare spending grew by more than 63 percent.

Read the full text of his essay here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.


  • srlucado

    “…a deeper problem: a government whose size and scope have become so vast as to crowd out civil institutions of various kinds…”

    Exactly. It’s also easier for government to keep an eye on these institutions as well.

    Anytime the regulatory compliance becomes so massive and onerous that it’s not only a barrier to success but even a barrier to entry, the entire economy, and in turn the country, suffer.

    Constitutionally, government’s job is to “promote the general welfare”–but how can this be possible when government itself is the biggest hindrance to growth?

  • http://naturalaw.failuretorefrain.com jurisnaturalist

    FYI, there is a free pdf of A Humane Economy available online.