There are two types of government: one that serves the people, and the other extracts wealth from them. Republicans put the US in the second category. Some of their scams are in plain sight. The working class has been getting squeezed for decades and there appears to be no end to it. In the US this neatly characterizes the two political parties and is an accurate interpretation of left and right. The right is for the wealthy, the left is for the people. Bad policy choices have led to extreme inequality, and that is a hallmark of bad government. It is class warfare and the rich are winning.
Fox News and other right-wing propaganda enlists the religious right and racists to keep a wealthy minority in control. It takes good government to maintain a balance between democracy and capitalism. The more inequality, the worse the government. Unfortunately, capitalism is winning now, so it is plundering and destroying the earth for profit. Climate devastation will be the mother of all market failures. We probably are destroying the planet for the kids.
Government is the referee between competing power groups. Conservatism a front for religious who prefer their theocracy, capitalists who think the market is the best decision maker, the military who take over when institutions fail, racists who think their culture is better than anyone else, and others who don't like democracy. It is no accident that the middle class (most people) has been sinking since Reagan took office. By attacking government, Reagan took out the ref. Deregulation also removes vital government functions. Republicans cut government services, minimize welfare, neglect infrastructure, sell off (privatize) public assets, bust unions, and give themselves tax cuts at public expense. They would also repeal healthcare to save money for their tax cuts. Long run they have produced extreme inequality and brought on a fascist government.
The Supreme Court defined much of the policy that has brought on corporate rule, allowed big dark money into elections, suppressed unions, rolled back the Voting Rights Act, and of course Republicans have further packed the Court with ideologues that will no doubt enable right-wing government. Corporations or small business should not be providing social services. For example, healthcare is not provided to everyone, it discourages job mobility, a threat to privacy, unnecessary bureaucracy, and it is withheld for high-risk companies.
Historically as inequality rises, authoritarianism usually wins, and stamps out democracy. A booming stock market is great for the wealthy few. Homelessness, poverty and economic insecurity also increase for the many. Institutional forces including government, market, religion, and others ramp up income inequality weakening democracy. When government is run for the benefit of the people, that is a left-wing government. Republicans would call it socialist or even communist. Labor unions can bargain to improve conditions for people, so Republicans are tireless in opposing unions. Republicans are always ready to downsize Social Security, eliminate healthcare, privatize schools, prisons, public land (for profit) but to implement huge tax cuts for themselves. It is questionable whether Republicans are willing to maintain even minimal infrastructure.
Republicans are mostly concerned about money and protecting their wealth. Their racist, anti-immigrant attitudes and fortress mentality should not surprise anyone since they represent billionaires. They are deficit hawks when not in office. Otherwise they claim tax cuts, paid from taxpayer debt, will bring prosperity, but mostly for themselves. Changing the withholding table made the Trump Tax cuts look positive for a lot of people, but actual tax benefit will expire for most people. Taxes have been reduced on the wealthy so that they pay less than working people. To pay for lost revenue, Rs cut your health care, social security, Medicare, welfare programs, public-employee benefits. They cut higher education and profit from student debt. They privatize (sell off public assets): schools, prisons, public lands, and crumbling infrastructure. They impose religious views on women's rights, deregulate for-profit schools while keeping them white. Lobbyists, well funded from Citizens United, allow fossil-fuel polluters to deny global warming, pharma to keep drug prices high, health care to remain a corporate feeding frenzy, banks get bailed out when risky trades fail, which makes a volatile business cycle an opportunity to make money. Deregulation of the financial sector can be a technique to blow up the economy, a part of the Republican scam.
These all redistribute upward, sink the middle class, and make government unresponsive. Republicans claim they want smaller government, but they are always willing to lavish resources on the military. They do not recognize that for decades military action has failed to serve any purpose except to reward war profiteers. The war economy is an economic bubble that needs to be carefully deflated. Russians have demonstrated that cyberwar is much cheaper, less destructive, and far more effective than conventional warfare. The US is in denial and building a new round of nuclear weapons; their use may be the end of humanity.
What Republicans actually mean by smaller government is that they would cut social programs, and currently they are attempting to cut bargaining rights and compensation of public employees including pensions. Cutting pensions, for Republicans, is always a way to dodge budget difficulties. In the private sector it is a way to dip into a honey pot for oligarchs. Combined with other Republican initiatives, like austerity (but not when they are in control), welfare reform, tax reform, and others it is clear that the result will accelerate income inequality by rewarding oligarchs and impoverishment of the working class. This IS class warfare.
Republican government is pushing most people into debt servitude for the benefit of oligarchs who actually do run things. Much government activity, trade agreements, law, intelligence, is carried out in secret because it favors the 1% and is often wrong. Apparently we cannot have both a large military and a government that serves people, so people must suffer. The price of empire includes abandoning human rights, destroying civil liberties, hollowing out the economy, and, since blowback is inevitable, making us much less safe. The US is not doing well, the middle class is sinking, democracy is in trouble, infrastructure is crumbling, security is ratcheting up, surveillance is unprecedented, but has the world's largest military and a nuclear arsenal like the world has never seen. It ignores climate science, can no longer be relied on to live up to international agreements, allies itself with authoritarians, and appears to be rapidly approaching fascism. The declining empire is inclined to fascism. The fascist police state doesn't care about its people. We learned that from the Nazis. We have likely lost WWII.
The two types of government are really two sides of a spectrum. On the right, authoritarian extreme, government goes to war with its own people for the benefit of a few: Syria, for example, bombed and poured chlorine gas on its people, the Nazis didn't hesitate when their people were destroyed. On the left are Nordic countries (Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden) that recognize health care, education, eldercare, family leave and functioning infrastructure as government responsibilities. Taxes are high but people get a better deal. Nordic countries also tend to have strong unions. They are happier. The gini coefficient measures income inequality and, I would argue, is a rough measure not only of the quality of government but also on the state of the social contract. It can be kept in control with strong unions, progressive taxation, inheritance taxes, a wealth tax, a strong social-safety net, and public education. Nordic countries like Finland, Denmark, or Norway have been more successful with these policies. It is good for decision making and democracy.
Since earth is our only home, our first priority, if we hope to survive, is to take care of it. However we are rapidly destroying it: over populating, polluting, deforesting, overfishing, rapidly consuming non-renewable resources. We need to carefully preserve what remains. Although most scientists believe climate is deteriorating, Republicans have obstructed action, Trump says it is a hoax, so the US is the only country not to join the Paris Climate Agreement. From what we know of space, we won't get a second chance. See the forecast. (Note: this text with links is at my website gopiswrong.net/government.htm)