The Economist

Stop! The size and power of the state is growing, and discontent is on the rise
The Economist

America’s most vibrant political force at the moment is the anti-tax tea-party movement. Even in leftish Massachusetts people are worried that Mr Obama’s spending splurge, notably his still-unpassed health-care bill, will send the deficit soaring. In Britain, where elections are usually spending competitions, the contest this year will be fought about where to cut. Even in regions as historically statist as Scandinavia and southern Europe debates are beginning to emerge about the size and effectiveness of government.

There are good reasons, as well as bad ones, why the state is growing; but the trend must be reversed. Doing so will prove exceedingly hard—not least because the bigger and more powerful the state gets, the more it tends to grow. But electorates, as in Massachusetts, eventually revolt; and such expressions of voters’ fury are likely to shape politics in the years to come.

The Economist will return to these areas in coming months. All raise different issues; and different countries may need to deal with them in different ways. But one large general point links them: a great battle about the state is brewing. And, as in another influential revolution, the first shot may have been heard in Massachusetts.