There are three unshakable realities in life: Death, taxes, and an ever-expanding government. The reality of death is one that each person must face. Taxes are indeed a reality, but as every conservative argues, taxes in America must decrease or the economy will inevitably falter. And while every American must deal with the reality of death and taxes, the growing federal government can and should be marginalized. This final reality can and should be altered. The new reality should be a smaller, leaner, more efficient government. Herein lies the argument in W. James Antle’s book, Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped?
The author has done his homework in this well-written book. Ten chapters guide readers on a journey that informs, educates, and most importantly, warns. Any thoughtful American will appreciate the contrast between the big government promoted by the current president and the smaller government that was prompted by our nations greatest president, Ronald Wilson Reagan.
W. James Antle is no pushover Republican. He not only warns readers about the manifold dangers of big government. He also reports some of the Republican failures and compromises which have not served our nation well.
The author does not offer “pie in the sky” solutions either. In fact, he is critical of any conservative who suggests such an approach. Rather, he recognizes the rocky road before our great nation and suggests practical steps to smooth our path to greater prosperity. But he does not write under any delusional pretense or promote a utopian vision. He understands the road to a smaller government will not be easy. He writes, “Sometimes it will seem impossible. But like a parent yanking his child to safety at the last second before he dashes into the street, Divine Providence has pulled this nation back from the abyss before.” Indeed, the path forward will be marked with pain. But the pain now will be worth it in the days to come.
Conservatives must be prepared for the rocky road to smaller government. The author rightly adds, “Conservatives who stick to their principles on taxes and spending get the Grover Norquist treatment.” That is to say, anyone who argues for lower spending, lower taxes and smaller government will be unfairly demonized. The attack adds against Paul Ryan during the last election cycle prove this sad point.
While the author sets forth several points which militate against big government, none is more important than the principle of liberty. In President Reagan’s farewell address, he articulated this bold principle in vivid terms: “There is a clear cause and effect there that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.” However, Reagan’s law is evidently not etched into the liberal mindset as liberals and progressives seek to expand the federal government. With this expansion comes the erosion of liberty. The author aptly sums up this matter: “As government grows beyond its constitutional boundaries, it really does devour freedom.”
Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? The author asks the right question and gives the right answer. The only question is this: Do we have the courage to move in the direction of a smaller federal government? Any negative answer will result in an erosion of freedom; the same freedom that was such an integral part of the dream which was articulated by the founding fathers.