On Liberty EP43 How big is big enough government?

“The goal should be to shrink, focus and improve the state.”

We welcomed Adam Smith Institute’s Matthew Lesh. Recently, writing in the IPA Review and The Australian, Matt says assessing public policy responses to covid comes down to the competence, rather than size, of government. Despite countless alternative explanations — such as differences in population size, style of government, and even the gender of political leaders — he argues covid outcomes crucially depend on the quality of governance.

Pointing to a stark contrast between NSW and Victoria, government competence has been the difference between life and death, freedom and tyranny. Matt challenges tired debates that pit big government against small government, and state intervention against market forces. Instead, he says, we must question how well government meets the needs of service-users and delivers bang-for-the-buck for taxpayers.

Guest host, Glenn Fahey asks how we should assess the competence of the state? Should limited government enthusiasts be concerned about an ever-expansive government? How big is big enough government?   Matt Lesh is Head of Research at the UK’s Adam Smith Institute and is an adjunct fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs. He is a past CIS guest and author of the 2019 book, Democracy in a Divided Australia.