The size, scope and purpose of government

Alex Himelfarb takes stock of the state and the competing visions of welfare and security.

We have seen in the U.S. today how hard it is to shift the momentum, to provide access to health care for all or to build bridges rather than fortresses. In Canada we should have it easier. We have a better base. But we seem to be vulnerable to those promoting distrust and fear. Perhaps our version of the welfare state has worked too well and we expect too much from it and are too easily disappointed by its failures. It seems too that as we get older, we are more fearful. Perhaps we expect more security from physical harm than is ever possible, especially in a free and democratic society. Leaders who over-promise in either camp do us no service, nor does fueling distrust and false fears or ignoring the evidence. And it is too easy to promise that we can somehow have it all without having to sacrifice anything or pay the taxes.

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