So You Want Small Government, Eh? Here’s What That Actually Looks Like

Amanda Claypool
8 min readOct 30, 2023
Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash

Every four years, Americans go to the polls. And every four years, there are a handful of politicians that make unrealistic promises in an attempt to garner your vote.

One such promise is the pursuit of a smaller government.

Republicans, in particular, fancy the idea that the government is too big. And to be fair, they aren’t wrong. It seems like there’s a government agency tasked with addressing any sort of issue you can imagine, including researching shrimp walking on treadmills.

The idea of small government — more responsible government — sounds great in theory. Most rational people would advocate for a government that spends their tax dollars wisely.

But in practice, small government isn’t a realistic solution.

What you and every politician pandering for your vote might not realize is that getting to a smaller government means changing the role of the government itself. It would require eliminating hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of jobs to get there.

That’s an interesting paradox to consider when many political leaders stump on their ability to create jobs — not destroy them.

The government is the behemoth it is today because it is the most important employer in our country. This article will dive into this lesser-known fact in greater depth. Particularly how eliminating jobs would affect the economy writ large.

Looking at this through the context of the current technological and digital transformation underway, it’s important to acknowledge the reality of what the government is — not just as we wish it to be.

The government is the largest employer in the country.

When you think of the government, you probably imagine well-dressed politicians running around the halls of Congress, slinking off to closed-door meetings with lobbyists and lawyers. In reality, “the government” is a vast bureaucracy of departments, agencies, and programs. It’s responsible for not just creating laws but implementing them.

To do that, the government has to employ people. Individuals across the government approve budgets…

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Amanda Claypool

I’m a writer & strategy consultant musing about the future of the world as it’s unfolding. Stay ahead of the curve: https://amandaclaypool.ck.page/reading-list