Kristol v. Hayek

Bill Kristol has drawn the ire of some conservatives for his recent column in the New York Times in which he seems to belittle those that still cling to small-government conservatism. Kristol's prose are usually glib in nature so you're never quite sure if he's serious or just trying to get a rise out of his peers. Regardless, the column is summed up in this paragraph:

So talk of small government may be music to conservative ears, but it's not to the public as a whole. This isn't to say the public is fond of big-government liberalism. It's just that what's politically vulnerable about big-government liberalism is more the liberalism than the big government. (Besides, the public knows that government's not going to shrink much no matter who's in power.)

Uh huh. So, rather than educating a cynical public, conservatives should just accept the ignorance of the masses and craft their message accordingly...or something.

John O'Sullivan offers some words of wisdom from F.A. Hayek:

The best riposte to Bill Kristol comes from Hayek. He pointed out years ago--sorry, don't have time to track down the citation--that the idea of small government was vital even if there was no prospect of its ever being achieved. So powerful and varied was the pressure in and on government for every kind of new spending that an automatic barrier was necessary to prevent the fiscal river sweeping all before it. A general prejudice against higher spending and taxes served as such a barrier. It might not prevent all or even most spending, but it would stop some. It would compel the government to think through its spending priorities and to confine them all within or nearly within taxable capacity. And though the government would probably grow anyway, it might grow less because of the prejudice that it should not grow at all.

In other words, fight the good fight and keep the great American experiment going for a little bit longer.