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After Coronavirus, Government Will Have to Shrink

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
 

By Stephen Harper (original source The Wall Street Journal)

“In the response to the coronavirus pandemic, leftists see a model for the future. “Not only will America need a massive dose of big government to get out of this crisis,” one wrote, “but we will need big, and wise, government more than ever in its aftermath.” As a conservative, I’m going to argue the opposite. What has happened in this crisis so far is not an indicator of the future. A new era of big government in the economy is unlikely, undesirable and far from inevitable.

Yes, government intervention in the economy today is without precedent. In early April, the International Monetary Fund estimated that fiscal actions around the world totaled some $3.3 trillion—more than 50% greater than all the stimulus spending of the global financial crisis—with another $4.5 trillion in loans and contingent liabilities. Those numbers have only grown, with leaders making daily television appearances to roll out wheelbarrows more money. Most media lavish praise on governments for these actions.

So why doesn’t this herald a new age of big government? It’s simple: All this intervention has been economically ruinous. No amount of money can fully compensate for social-distancing actions whose effect is to shut down large segments of the economy. Tens of millions have lost jobs, and many thousands have lost businesses. In most cases, compensation from the state is a fraction of what they were earning.”

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