This article originally appeared on heartland.org.
Results fromÂ national polling company Gallupâs annual governance surveyÂ suggest that a growing number of Americans believe that governmentâs interference in their lives has grown too large. Surveying randomly selected individuals across the nation, researchers found that 49 percent of Americans feel that government is too active in their lives, while only 22 percent say that government should play a larger role in everyday life.
Over the past 12 years, Gallupâs polling has found a relatively steady increase in the number of everyday people feeling the squeeze of government regulations. Excluding a two-year ârally effectâ â attributed by researchers to pro-government sentiments sparked by the 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks â more and more Americans have expressed that the government has intruded into too many aspects of their lives.
Likewise, the proportion of surveyed citizens believing that government enacts the âright amountâ of, or âtoo muchâ regulation has trended downward. In 2005, 40 percent of Americans were comfortable with the scope of government interference in their lives, and 23 percent felt that government needed to interfere more. This year, however, the percentage of individuals holding both flavors of pro-regulatory sentiments reached near-record lows â 27 percent of surveyed Americans reported that they felt governmentâs current size was sufficient, and 22 percent of respondents wanted government to seize more power.
âAmericans are correct to be concerned about government regulation,â according toÂ Mark Thornton, Senior Fellow at theÂ Ludwig von Mises Institute. âIt only kills jobs and raises costs and prices to consumers.â
Confirming stereotypes about members of the nationâs two major political parties, theÂ surveyÂ also confirmed the growing divide between Republicans and Democrats, with 76% of the former indicating that there is too much regulation compared with only 22% of the latter.
Gallupâs analysis of its polling data suggests that the overall increase of regulatory skepticism has been driven by a shift in Republicansâ views, as Democratic Party membersâ support of government regulation has been largely consistent and dominant over the surveyed 13 years.
In the years during which Republican president George W. Bush held office, the majority of Republican Party members did not feel that government interference was a problem.
However, after President Barack Obama took office, a supermajority of Republican Party members quickly began to adopt a negative opinion of Big Government. Pro-liberty sentiment within the Republican Party peaked in 2011, when a whopping 84 percent of Republicans said that government had too much power.
While supporters of regulatory bloat say that the increase in governmentâs power is necessary to protect the economy from itself, experts believe that the rise of skepticism noted by Gallupâs polling may be fueled by the publicâs reevaluation of old assumptions about the consequences of âdoing nothing.â
ââFree marketsâ and âlaissez-faireâ do not mean businesses get to run wild. The opposite is true,â Crews said, seemingly echoing the growing sentiment of the American public. âThey are disciplined by their suppliers, their business customers, consumers, financial markets, the media, and rivals.â
During the polling period of September 4 until September 7, Gallup researchers polled 1,017 randomly selected Americans aged 18 and older, using both landline and cellular telephones.
D. Brady NelsonÂ (email@example.com)Â is an economist, writer, and speaker from Brisbane, Australia, Nelson is a regulation expert with The Heartland Institute.