The morning after

The era of big government is back.

Yes, I know, contra Bill Clinton in 1996, it never left us.  But I'm talking culturally, in the public mind, the zeitgeist.  Gone are the days when large numbers of people believed Ronald Reagan's rhetoric (if only on the rhetorical level) that government is the problem and not the solution.

I sensed this coming back in July: "For better or worse — likely worse — every indication is that more people will seek solutions to their economic problems at the ballot box come November."

Events have borne this out with voter turnout yesterday of 64% — a number that smashes any turnout figure from Great Depression days.

In that same July post, I took note of a survey:

70% of respondents to a Rockefeller Foundation/Time magazine survey say government should do more to help people struggling through current economic circumstances.  (Unfortunately, the pollsters did not inquire where this money might come from.)  Among people age 18-29, the number shoots up to 86%.  And they're the age cohort that we're told will turn out in higher numbers than has been the case in recent decades.

And that was before everyone's 401(k) became a 201(k).  Now, not only are people looking to government for solutions, they're blaming the "excesses of capitalism" for the present state of affairs — as if Team Bush's near-doubling of the national debt, massive prescription drug program, and bailouts for the finance sector have anything to do with capitalism.  But that's where we are.

All of this adds up to immense expectations placed on the shoulders of one man this morning.  Scary stuff.  But my wife observed a palpable sense of burden in the countenance of the president-elect last night — as if he's aware the savior-like expectations people have of him are far out of proportion to what one person can possibly bear.

If he can keep the adulation from going to his head, then at least his administration might pursue whatever bungled big-government policies it adopts with some measure of humility.

Hey, in an election where limited government didn't stand a chance no matter who won, it's the best we can hope for.

Update: The interest in the I.O.U.S.A. DVD bundle is so intense, it crashed our ordering system just before the midnight deadline last night.  So we're extending it till midnight tonight.  Both the major-party candidates ignored the screaming-big national debt, but that doesn't mean it won't go away, or that it won't affect you.  Details here.  

The Daily Reckoning