The main argument now, increasingly, is between those who view the state as an enabler and those who view it as, at best, a sometimes necessary irritant. To employ a massively oversimplified analogy, statists seem to think that the state should act as captain, coach, physio, kitman, ballboy, PR department, groundsman, ticketing department, FIFA representative, the guy with the half time oranges, agent, translator, WAG, turnstile operator, matchday police, the guy selling the big flags outside the ground and the guy confiscating the big flags on the way into the ground. Libertarians just want a guy with a fucking whistle.
As I often have (or at any rate want) to remind people when I shove up an SQOTD, the fact that I think whatever it is to be a snappy bit of prose doesn’t necessarily mean that I completely agree with it, even as I usually reckon it to have its heart in the right place.
A complaint about the above quote, for instance, is that it omits to mention the most obviously foolish of all state activities, which is that states now routinely insist on striding onto the pitch and trying to play, like that embarrassing games teacher played by Brian Glover in the movie Kes, even as (like Brian Glover) they continue to be the ref.
I recently heard President Obama say on my television that the job of President is (I quote from memory as best I can) “making decisions and helping people”. President Obama thinks that he should be both the referee and a player, in other words. And since he cannot possibly help everyone in the USA, he ends up playing for one side (helping only some people) against the other side (at other people’s expense), and his refereeing gets bent out of shape to reflect his competitive preferences.
Presidents shouldn’t be helping. They should be maintaining and defending the circumstances within which people can help themselves.