||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United Kingdom and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
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In Hong Kong
Milton Friedman described Hong Kong as a laissez-faire state and he credits that policy for the rapid move from poverty to prosperity in 50 years. Hong Kong's GDP grew under British colonial control between 1898 and 1997, while possessing central banking, school regulations, environmental regulations and government ownership of housing – all examples of economic intervention.
A 1994 World Bank report stated that Hong Kong's GDP per capita grew in real terms at an annual rate of 6.5% from 1965 to 1989, a consistent growth percentage over a span of almost 25 years. By 1990 Hong Kong's per capita income officially surpassed that of the ruling United Kingdom.
The former Prime Minister of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, wrote the book From Social State to Minimal State (Danish: Fra socialstat til minimalstat) in 1993, in which he advocated an extensive reform of the Danish welfare system along classical liberal lines. In particular, he favors lower taxes and less government interference in corporate and individual matters.
In the United Kingdom
The idea of Small government was heavily promoted in the United Kingdom by the Conservative government of 1979 under the Premiership of Margaret Thatcher. There are differing views on the extent to which it was achieved. On the one hand, it allowed the stock markets and industries to compete more heavily with each other and made British goods more valued in world trade.
An important part of the Thatcher government's policy was Privatization which was intended to reduce the role of the state in the economy and allow industries to act without government interference which was blamed for much of Britain's economic woes during the late 1960s and 1970s. Supporters of Thatcherism would argue that this has been an unqualified success.[clarification needed]
Opponents argue that privatization has not led to small government at all. It has just led to the appearance of small government, while pushing up costs and harming public services. This argument is particularly heard in connection with the railways and the National Health Service. Critics argue that, although record amounts of funding have gone into transport and the NHS, they are both sub-par and do not represent value for investment.
In the 20th century, Small government was generally associated with the Conservative Party and Big government with the Labour Party. In the 21st century, both parties compete to "do more with less".
While governments try to interfere less with the economy they seem driven to interfere more with people's personal lives. The Labour government during the Premiership of Tony Blair was criticized on this score, e.g., by giving unwanted advice about eating, drinking and smoking. This has been dubbed as the 'nanny state.'
In the United States
The origin of the United States lies in the adoption of a Constitution whose advocates favored a strong central government. For example Alexander Hamilton wrote, in The Federalist Papers, "Not to confer in each case a degree of power commensurate to the end would be to violate the most obvious rules of prudence and propriety, and improvidently to trust the great interests of the nation to hands which are disabled from managing them with vigor and success." Hamilton was a supporter of a relatively stronger federal government than other founding leaders. Madison, for example, disagreed with Hamilton on a number of points in various writings.
The "small government" movement in the United States, furthermore, is not just a product of either America's founding or of the Tea Party movement, but is largely a product of Ronald Reagan's presidency from 1980-88, and the conservative movement that prefaced Reagan's presidency. Barry Goldwater's failed 1964 bid for the presidency was a prelude to the ideas of cutting the size of government expressed by Reagan and other conservatives. Reagan served during the same time period as Thatcher, who was listed under the United Kingdom in this article, and the two are linked in discourse about small government.
The Tea Party movement, however, claims that the Founding Fathers advocated small government and that, contrary to what Hamilton wrote, the Constitution prohibits large government. They also claim that in the past the United States had a small government, and that it has turned away from that ideal. The Republican Party is associated with the idea of small government, especially in its conservative wing containing politicians like Ron Paul. One minor party, the Libertarian party, has an ideology of small government. Another advocate for small government is Carla Howell.
- The Hong Kong Experiment by Milton Friedman on Hoover Digest accessed at March 29, 2007
- Rowley C & Fitzgerald R Managed in Hong Kong: Adaptive Systems, Entrepreneurship and Human Resources Routledge, UK, 2000. ISBN 0-7146-5026-9
- Yu Tony Fu-Lai.  (1997) Entrepreneurship and Economic Development of Hong Kong. United Kingdom: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-16240-8
- "2008 Index of Economic Freedom". Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal.
- Economic Freedom of the World Report Economic Freedom Network (Fraser Institute) 2007
- East, Roger; Thomas, Richard (2003). Profiles of People in Power: The World's Government Leaders. London: Routledge. p. 140.
- Thompson, Wayne C. (2008). Nordic, Central, and Southeastern Europe. Harpers Ferry: Stryker-Post Publications. p. 72.
- Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, The Federalist Papers, p. 151, Signet Classics, 2003
- Carla Howell & Michael Cloud. "Small government solutions to big government problems (The Center For Small Government, 2009)". Retrieved 2012-01-05.
- Carla Howell. "How Could I Live Without Filing Taxes ? (Video clip, The Center For Small Government, 2001)". Retrieved 2012-01-05.
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