I guess the only thing I don't understand is where this axiomatic faith comes from that reducing the size of government is always the best regardless of how bad the outcomes are for people.There's a zillion answers to this one. My honest answers, in order of importance go something like this:
1. Authority. I personally HATE the very idea of authority. The greater the authority, the greater the use of the authority, and the less you can opt out, the worse things are. Government is the ultimate in un-opt-out-able, high consequences of disobedience authority. No BS please about the ability to opt out of this pile of crap into deeper piles of crap. Until Patri or Paul gets their thing going, no such thing. If I were putting intellectual pretensions on this, I'd go all Randian on trade or force, and justify that way...but it's pre-justification. Hate it. I especially hate people who think they're smarter than you telling you what you should do, or how something is going to work, and being wrong. Krugman and Klein, Pelosi, Obama, and Reid talking Obamacare got the precise thing I hate nailed perfectly.
2. Growthism. Economic growth is responsible for roughly 110% of the difference between our lifestyle and that of sub-saharan Africa. Economic growth is entirely driven by private activity, bottom up, with the government able (almost) only to get in the way. The extent to which government regulates is almost identical to the extent to which government squelches innovation and therefore growth. As per a previous post, anything that slows or stops growth is net bad for everyone in the future...including (usually) most people living right now...but because of short term stupidities, people make the trade of good now for worse later.
3. Error. Everyone's wrong a lot. Errors in business usually cost the business a lot of money. Erros in government cost everyone else a lot of money...given how often folks in general are wrong, government is highly unsafe.
4. Political Realism/Public Choice/Regulatory Capture/Incentives/Econ. The incentives structure of government is atrocious. Any reasonable study of organizations at all eventually concludes that government as we know it cannot be otherwise than 90% a parasitic entity that siphons value off of industry and creates almost no value. The other 10% is up for grabs...but with an easy 90% being complete and total parasitic waste, it's worth opposing all of it, because my BS detectors will fail on significant chunks of what good it can do. This is especially important when analyzing systems that are supposed to help the poor. Also, regulation and taxation is economically complicated and usually works in predictable ways, but not the ways that the law-makers say it will.
5. Feedback. Aretae's first law is that the quality of a system is defined by the quality of the feedback loop. Feedback loops in government are, if anything, negative to the nominal purpose. Government workers working on poverty have real incentives to prolong poverty, and negative incentives to decrease poverty. Unsurprisingly, poverty hasn't decreased, despite 9-11 digits worth of government money thrown at the problem. Any system without good feedback systems loses. Apply this reasoning to any governmental system at all...and the nominal goals of the organization and the feedback systems for the individuals in the organization are at odds.
6. Crowding. Not only is Government authoritarian, bad for growth, wrong a lot, public-choice constrained to try to do bad stuff, and hideous on feedback...it also crowds out private activities which would arise in the absence of government. We have no decent education system because we have a public school system. We have weak mail delivery because we have a post office.
Note...none of this says that I am opposed on principle to all programs. I hate being taxed so that the government can spend money that decreases the standard of living of everyone now, and everyone in the future, and so that they can ask for even more next year in a nearly-guaranteed cycle that has no path to improvement.
I don't generally oppose appropriately incentivized programs for the poor, though I oppose the implementation of all the ones we have. My wife sends me this, for instance...and the big question is ... is this an anomaly, or must you expect this, and be surprised by anything different?
I don't generally oppose support for those who cannot support themselves, though the way we do it now sucks.
I don't oppose Health Care, even government run health care...but the present bill may have been the worst one possible...far worse than single payer, and mind-bogglingly worse than Singapore-style mandated HSAs with government-managed support for the poor, and government-run catastrophic insurance. And I believe they have less different outcomes between rich and poor than we do...while our current crappy system gives less difference between the care of rich and poor than the single-payer systems (like Canada).
I heartily oppose discrimination from personal interest. But I hate current anti-discrimination law, and am worried that it net-damages the prospects of my eldest, who is quite dark-skinned, though whenever I have a personal business, it is nominally owned by my black wife, in order to gain benefits I shouldn't be able to gain.
Kling/Friedman-style flat income tax rate, no deductions but a 20k/person personal deduction to replace all taxes and all welfare programs? All the way onboard.
Singapore-style government mandated HSAs and support for the poor and catastrophe? Yesterday, please.
Federalism, and super-federalism pushing to counties and cities, including tax behavior, so that the socialists can see the results of their policies, and the libertarians can see the results of theirs, as we segregate by preference? Wow! When can we start?
But overall...the 6 issues I have dominate my concerns.. Worse, none of the liberal arguments for government ever seem to address any of my issues at all. And at least most of my issues seem reasonable.