The new science fiction movie Downsizing with Matt Damon opens at theaters this week. Wiki provides a summary:
Downsizing imagines what might happen if, as a solution to over‐population, Norwegian scientists discover how to shrink humans to 5 inches (13 cm) tall and propose a 200‐year global transition from big to small, but with one catch: the procedure cannot be reversed. People soon realize how much further money goes in a miniaturized world, and with the promise of a better life, everyman Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to abandon their stressed lives in Omaha in order to become small and move to a new downsized community—a choice that triggers life‐changing adventures. To Paul’s horror and outrage, he finds out that Audrey backed out at the last second. After the couple understands that they do not have a future together, they divorce and Paul must now figure out how to start his life over in a completely different world.
That sounds interesting. But I think the following tweaks would have improved the plot:
Downsizing imagines what might happen if, as a solution to over‐spending, Cato social scientists discover how to shrink the federal government to 5 percent of GDP and propose a 20‐year transition from big to small, but with one advantage: the procedure cannot be reversed. People soon realize how much further money goes in a world with a miniaturized Washington, and with the promise of a better life, most Americans abandon their partisan acrimony and embrace their newly empowered local communities—a choice that triggers life‐changing adventures. To widespread horror and outrage, Americans find that a few big government zealots try to sabotage the peaceful transition. After the zealots understand that Americans want freedom, they emigrate to a completely different world to impose their ideas, which are divorced from reality.
For this version, I would cast Vince Vaughn instead of Matt Damon and Julienne Davis instead of Kristen Wig.
Anyway, while we are waiting for Hollywood to make Downsizing 2 along these lines, we should ask policymakers to pursue real‐life downsizing of the federal budget. The proposals here would chop spending from 23 percent of GDP to 18 percent. More cuts would be needed to reach 5 percent, but remember that defense is only 3 percent of GDP, and other spending is less important.
DownsizingGovernment.org discusses how to miniaturize federal agencies. Rather than shrinking bureaucrats to 5 inches tall, it proposes to eliminate their programs, allowing them to start over in the completely different world of the private sector.
Cato’s new E‐book, Downsizing Federal Government Spending, includes essays by Cato scholars on how to divorce federal taxpayers from farm subsidies, infrastructure spending, and other programs that shrink their wallets.