An Idea That Has Come and Gone

Have you ever been struck by the fact that most of the matters about which people demand that the government “do something” are none of their business, and hence no proper business of the government officials who purport to represent them, either? For most people, the idea that the government ought to be limited never crosses their mind. Moreover, the idea that the government should be confined to the enforcement of people’s natural rights would be viewed as not only crazy but evil.

In short, for nearly everyone now, limited government is not only an idea that has come and gone, but an idea that never should have come in the first place. A genuinely free society is the last thing contemporary people want — and hence they will certainly never get.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.