A final consequence of government intervention is thought control. By their existence, interventions take a stand on important issues. Worse, many control the information that people receive about which interventions make sense.
The potential for thought control is most obvious for policies like education or funding of research, but it applies broadly. Economic regulation takes a stand on how markets work; taxing corporations perpetuates a view that inanimate objects, not people, pay taxes; redistributing income takes a position on self-reliance; campaign finance regulation and estate taxation endorse particular views of wealth accumulation. And so on.
Thus government cannot intervene without perpetuating particular views about how society should be run, about who should be the winners and losers, and about what is good or bad. If this were done by benevolent, competent people, the negatives might be small, but that is unlikely. People are people. Some policy makers have good intentions, some do not. And even those with good intentions make mistakes. So putting control over ideas into the hands of a few is fraught with potential for disaster.
Many non-libertarians regard this last point as ridiculous exaggeration; they see no evidence that countries like the U.S. are slipping toward Big Brother and “1984.”
I hope they are right, but I fear they are wrong. Government now intervenes far more extensively than it has in the past, and people have come to accept a larger and larger role for government. This intervention affects every aspect of economic and social life. If this trend continues, I forecast that even advocates of intervention may rue the day we started down the slippery slope.