That’s what it’s for. That’s what a Government does, starting with the fundamental “no, you can’t invade us and take our stuff”. We’ve mostly formalized that as “Rule of Law”, but that’s what Law is, a list of Thou Shalt Nots.

It’s useful if not taken too far. NO you can’t rob people, NO you can’t kill people at random, NO you can’t drive 120 MPH in a school zone. A consistently applied set of ground rules creates an atmosphere of mutual trust among the People, who can then trade and interact with confidence.

Government bureaucrats know that their job is to say NO. They are also as competitive as any other bunch of human beings, and they seek status among their fellows by finding more and more reasons to perform their function, and by being more and more effective in their work. They also seek to get their relatives and friends on the gravy train, and those appointees seek to justify their employment by conspicuously performing their duties. Those duties involve saying NO, and whether or not any single one of them is effective at it, as the mass grows the NOs accumulate into blockages.

Moe Lane points out that one of the Democrats’ “talking points” for the 2012 campaign is highlighting a modest job-creation agenda blocked by Republicans. What needs to be pointed out is that almost the entirety of that “job-creation agenda” has been focused on creating or saving (!) Government jobs. Every pendulous appendage (above or below the waist) thus employed immediately begins beavering away at his or her prime task, which is saying NO as often, as creatively, and as expansively as possible. The low-hanging fruit having been picked long ago, the NOs have to be applied to newly discovered imperatives: NO you can’t disturb the desert lizards, NO you can’t build that dam/pipeline/factory/power plant, NO you can’t employ people without jumping through hoops…

It’s estimated that regulation — Government saying NO in more and more detailed ways — costs the U. S. economy almost two trillion dollars a year. Every Government bureaucrat added is one more NO added to the list of things that aren’t allowed, and a lot of those NOs mean even more cost in terms of lost employment and lost economic opportunity. Adding more Government employees doesn’t stimulate the economy, it represses it. Every Government job “created or saved” means at least one, usually more, non-Government job lost or destroyed, and it’s non-Government jobs that form the economy that pays for everything.

Republicans should say, early, often, and as loudly as possible, that Government employment isn’t job creation, it’s job destruction. However modest that agenda may be, anybody who wants to have jobs and prosperity should be blocking it at every possible turn.