It is not either or. First we do not need as much government as we have from two points of view:
We have politicians who tax us or get bond issues passed for specific items and use the money for something else. The grossest example of this are state and federal gasoline taxes specifically designed to be used for road & bridge building and maintenance that have been diverted to other uses; look around you at the condition of most roads and bridges and that will tell you that politicians have not allocated these funds properly…and in the past year the feds and several states have begun the process of trying to increase these taxes. Another example is floating bonds to pay staff in a school system, can you buy a car and use the money to go on vacation?
We are very over policed in the US, yet our response times to serious crimes is not good. If given the choice between police or firemen, the politician will always layoff fireman…why, police are revenuers; they write tickets! So the politician’s idea if public safety is revenue for the city, when in reality firemen save more lives, injuries, property than any police force known to man…I have police in the family, the reality is they are the clean up crew after the mess…I view myself as the First Responder, I do not wait for the police or anyone else, most times I am at the hospital or have defended myself before the intruder made it inside my house, before the police or fire arrives.
As a society we expect too much of our government and they are very expensive to operate, most are highly inefficient and protected by civil service rules and at this point I haven’t found any that have worse benefits then the private sector. There are some very good departments that are effective and terrific at what they do. We need to have much better checks and balances, which we obviously do not have, mostly because the size of the government and what the government does is hidden from us and the apathy of our citizens. Government officials like to built empires by providing services for citizens, once provided, they are difficult to take away. Social Security was once a safety net and was designed to help in the last few years of life[life expectancy was only a year longer than when SS kicked in and the dollars were small], in addition there were 50 to 70 people paying in for every person on SS. Now a days if you do not live in an expensive area and you downsize when you retire you can darn near live on it[not well, if you live in a state where they do not tax it] and there are 3 to 5 people contributing for every person in SS and we live for close to 16 years after we start collecting and we let people collect who NEVER CONTRIBUTED LIKE REFUGEES!
We need to scale back what government does and keep to the basics, I have no problem paying for great roads and infrastructure, I have a real problem when that money is diverted to pet projects of politicians, even if worthy, if they do not get my permission…after all,it is our money, even if their brother-in-law is the contractor on the job.