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In today’s 5-4 SCOTUS ruling that a private company administering a public access channel in NYC is not a state actor subject to the First Amendment, Justice Kavanaugh writes for the majority: “It is sometimes said that the bigger the government, the smaller the individual.” 1/
It is? Said by whom? I never heard anyone say this, and the opinion provides no citation, so I Googled it and found the Twitter feed of the Ayn Randian Atlas Society. But what is the origin of this saying? 2/
It appears to be an aphorism coined by a libertarian talk show host named Dennis Prager (who originally referred to “citizen” rather than “individual”). Various libertarian candidates for office have used the phrase, with or w/o attribution. 3/
The claim is false insofar as it asserts a linear relationship between the size of government and the ability of individuals to flourish. Ask Hobbes how well individuals do when one shrinks government down to nothing. 4/
The claim conflates government’s size and its reach. Govt could be large in terms of taxes or spending/GDP ratio but small in its intrusion on people’s lives. Welfare states need not be and generally have not been totalitarian states. 5/
But merits aside, note how five GOP-appointed Justices issue an opinion containing a slogan that seems to travel almost exclusively in the libertarian right-wing-o-verse. [End of thread]
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