• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Britain’s Road to Serfdom

    The amount of money the U.S. is spending in its vain effort to stimulate the economy is hard to grasp. As we’ve pointed out, $819 billion is equivalent to borrowing $10,520 from every family in America. That’s $819 billion that individual Americans will no longer be able to spend freely, as they see fit, and used instead to expand the power of the state.

    If that number still boggles the mind, here’s one to contemplate from our friends in Britain. We like to think of Britain as being true to its traditions as the home of liberty, small government, and personal responsibility. But in 2008-09, the British government will be responsible for 49 percent of the entire British economy.

    Yes, 49 percent. One out of every two pounds.

    And that’s just the national average. In parts of Britain, the situation is much, much worse. In northeast England, the state will be responsible for more than 66 percent of all economic activity. In Wales, the state will control 71.6 percent of the economy, and in Northern Ireland – which has supposedly rebounded with the end of the IRA’s terrorist campaign – the state will be responsible for 77.6 percent. Even in southeast England, the government’s share has grown from 33 to 36 percent in the past four years.

    It’s not easy to understand how big a billion is. But it’s a lot harder to grasp how big a state that controls half the economy is. And there is no way this is compatible with liberty. When the state controls two out of every three transactions, everyone looks to the state, and the state looks at everything. As the Sunday Times cuttingly points out:

    The state now looms far larger in many parts of Britain than it did in former Soviet satellite states such as Hungary and Slovakia as they emerged from communism in the 1990s, when state spending accounted for about 60% of their economies.

    As Hayek pointed out in 1944, “Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is control of the means for all our ends.” And now the U.S. is following Britain merrily down that road.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Britain’s Road to Serfdom

    1. Marcia Benson, Connecticut says:

      I have never been so concerned over the state of our country as I am now. It seems that many of our Senators and Representatives are willing to send this country into bankruptcy as long as they can continue to maintain their own personal serfdoms. The press has become so biased to the left that I have stopped reading the newspaper and listening to the news. (We only get the major news stations and CNBC.) At this point in time, I have no hope of retirement since I don’t see how SS will be able to remain solvent or that the market will ever stabilize. We are in for a very rough ride both Federally and on the State level. The present course of the new administration with its pork barrel bailout will lead us down the road to disaster.

    2. J.W.Thinkwright says:

      We began a serious loss of liberty in the 30′s, under FDR. In 1966 Liberty took a serious hit from which she never recovered—the 1966 Congressional election. Read all about it in the e-book ‘Bye-Bye Sweet Liberty.’ just Google: ‘Revive liberty by thinkwright.’

    3. J. S. says:

      When this happens in the United States, the recourse is what Jefferson and Lincoln affirmed was our right all along, to alter or abolish the government, peacefully or through revolution. If we reach the red line of doomsday scenarios, there is no degree of rationality and discourse that prevents us from rightly beating the plows into swords and feeding the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

      But we all pretend to be so far civilized to be entitled not have to struggle for our freedom. Time will tell.

    4. Brenda, California says:

      We are giving up our rights as American citizens.

      We no longer follow our own laws, immigration is out of control, freedom of speech is used to do and say things that were never meant to morally disgust the people, our leaders can avoid paying taxes and it is just a mistake. If we the people did the same thing we would be in so much trouble that we would loose our rights, not be able to participate in the honor of representing our nation. There will be a revolution in our lifetime by the people that love this country.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×