Government is essentially a national management system, taking on those tasks that it would be unwise or unworkable to turn over to the free market. Good government functions as intended. Bad government takes over the nation and becomes an absolute force, looting and raiding public resources, suppressing individual freedoms in order to keep itself in power. In olden days this sort of government was considered a tyranny.
Government shares its revenues with whoever holds power within a political system. In a non-democratic system, the number of people who receive their share is smaller. For example a king may share a portion of revenues obtained from the peasants with his nobility for the simple and practical reasons, that they can rise up against him and remove him, and that they function as local governments over the peasantry. Similarly a mob boss collects a share of the money stolen and seized by his soldiers, and then passes it back down to them. Nazi Germany implemented much the same system within the Nazi party, as did the Soviet Union within the Communist party and now in Putin's Russia, through a system of bribes.
Such non-democratic systems form a pyramid in which a large number of money goes up the chain to a small number of people. Those at the top live very well. Those at the bottom live very poorly. As a result the system itself is impoverished. It can only thrive when it is parasitic on the free market. That is why the mob had to focus on America. It is why Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union had to continually expand and find new countries to loot. It is why Putin's Russia, having burned through a lot of the resources seized from its businessmen, is pushing forward on the military front. It is why King George III began pressing America, resulting in the American Revolution.
The situation in a democratic system is more complicated, but the end result is the same. In the United States, Tammany Hall set a model by harnessing the New York bureaucracy as their own revenue mill, expecting every municipal employee to pay to receive a job, and then pay for a promotion. The employees themselves would have to find ways to make money "on the job." So for example an appointment as a New York Police Sergeant would cost 200 dollars. The Sergeant would have to "make money" either through bribes or shakedowns to pay the officers above him, while receiving a cut from the officers below him. If he did well, he could pay 500 dollars to become a New York Police Captain, moving up the ladder for greater rewards. This was the disastrous situation that Teddy Roosevelt would try to remedy as New York's Police Commissioner in 1895.
Tammany Hall leaders, better known as the New York State Democratic Party, lived lavish lifestyles. Corruption was everywhere. No one trusted the police. The fire department was the province of gangs. Organized crime was inseparable from the political system. Ward leaders ran gambling and prostitution rings. Rival police forces beat each other bloody on the steps of City Hall over a political dispute between the Mayor and the Governor over who had the right to a lucrative appointment of the sanitation commissioner.
What made all this interesting, was that the system that we today associate with places like Russia or Nigeria, was taking place under a facade of democracy. Tammany Hall understood that it had to succeed at both corruption and populism. Corruption without public support meant that sooner or later, the people would rise up and bring them down. Despite rigged elections, voter intimidation and gangs that beat Republican or rival Democratic voters-- Tammany Hall understood that it could not hold absolute power in a democracy. It still had to answer to the voters. Sooner or later.
What happened was that the pyramid got bigger, by sharing more of the money with the people. Tammany Hall cultivated populism through ward leaders who traded votes by offering favors for their constituents. The Democratic party leadership focused on cultivating and controlling immigrant groups, who were newcomers and often ignorant, as a counterbalance to the old New York Republican WASP reformers. The immigrant groups were kept impoverished in low paying slum jobs, while being given free turkeys and the occasional medical clinic, as Democratic leaders played patron to them in exchange for their votes. Meanwhile whatever they gave, they took back tenfold through bribes and government corruption, such as rigging the price of ice, via the Ice Trust.
The money they spent on their constituents was a small share of the taxes they collected. Most of the money instead went to the municipal bureaucracy and the Tammany Hall leaders at the top. As corruption crackdowns came, the Democratic party began to eschew open bribery in favor of "Honest Graft". This moved the party up and away from street level crime and low level paid appointments. Instead the focus became on appropriating government revenues for their own benefit. Municipal appointments no longer depended on direct payments, but on party loyalty. Taxes had to be raised to offer more services administered by that same ever growing bureaucracy. Organized crime had become socialism.
LBJ's Southern Strategy applied the same principles that had been used for new immigrants, whose number was dying down, to blacks in the South. Just as in its Tammany Hall days, the New York Democratic party had quickly gone from being anti-Irish to the best friends of the Irish. A process they repeated with Jews, Italians and Puerto Ricans, among many others. So too the Party of Segregation, became the Civil Rights Party.
The change was not moral, it was political calculation. FDR had implemented socialism by exploiting the economic emergency of the Depression, and then wartime necessity in WW2, as justifications. The old immigrant groups were moving up out of the urban ghettos, and their transition to solid secure middle-classdom, combined with the rising threat of the USSR, seriously endangered the Democratic party and the future of liberalism.
The 50's saw a Republican President for the first time since the rise of FDR who was moderate enough to maintain the political center. Post-war prosperity and the Cold War meant the focus would no longer be on domestic social reform programs, but on national defense. The average American was well off and drifting toward conservatism. No wonder the decade continues to be embodied in literature and movies as a horrifying period of mindless conformity by liberal authors and filmmakers, for whom there is nothing more horrifying than living in a comfortable system.
The Democratic party took back the initiative by focusing on the youth vote, because when no one really needs change, it's still a safe bet that the youth would. By the 1960 Presidential election, a generation that had not fought in WW2 and had been raised on post-war prosperity became the newest set of voters. And many of them proved quite eager to hear a message of change, even if no real change was actually needed. Kennedy's status as a transgressive candidate because of his youth and catholicism made voting for him seem a progressive act alone.
And the Southern Strategy meanwhile saw the Democrats focusing increasingly on the black vote. The black vote was meant to replace the ethnic working class vote that had steadily become more conservative, and the Democratic strategy would be to promise reforms but to make sure that the black community would be unable to do what the immigrant communities had done, which is to leave their control. That section of the strategy was to become Tammany Hall writ large on a national scale, with regular commemorations and celebrations of black heritage, combined with policies that created dependency and fostered exploitation. The real face of the Democratic party's Southern Strategy was a Socialist Strategy, creating an infrastructure of patronage and propaganda to maintain a core constituency that would be under their absolute control. (European socialist parties, themselves coping with the lack of an aggrieved working class constituency, would attempt to replicate the same strategy with disastrous results using Muslim immigrants.)
When combined with the massive Chicago voter fraud, the result was victory. That combination of youth appeal, minority orientation and a transgressive candidate would fuel future Democratic Presidential victories, most notably Clinton and Obama. The Kennedy vs Nixon template of a youthful liberal against a stodgy conservative would become a fundamental bit of branding. Defeats would be regularly accredited to a failure of charisma, rather than policy. The key words were to be reform and change, both of which when translated from Newspeak meant building up a bureaucratic infrastructure composed primarily of their own loyalists ever higher, creating a state within a state, and a government within a government, that would in reality govern everything.
As government bureaucracy became an ideological tool, constant government expansion became a way of life. Government became bigger and bigger and as it did the cost of government went completely out of control. Under FDR the national debt zoomed up by 1600 percent. By the time Truman left office, the National Debt had passed 250 billion dollars. Under Carter it shot up to 900 billion dollars. Under Obama it is set to hit 12 trillion dollars. And that's just for starters. The last time the national debt approached 100 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, it was WW2. Under Obama it is expected to pass 100 percent of the GDP by the end of his first term. And that is a "friendly" projection from an administration that has shown no facility with accurate projections or spending controls whatsoever.
When that happens individual production will match individual debt, and as social spending exceeds even defense spending, and is projected to pass actual tax receipts, the economy of the United States becomes unsustainable and is headed for a major disaster. That disaster however is likely to only lead to further socialist consolidation and the expansion of government. Which is why invoking the ghost of FDR, Obama's policies have focused on nationalization and running up an even bigger debt to expand government programs to an even greater extent.
Meanwhile the US continues to follow Europe's footsteps by trying to compensate for the generational worker gap caused by baby boomer retirements with immigration, which only further expands demands for social services spending. One unsustainable policy piggybacking on another is how tyrannies are built.
This America will distribute its bottom of the barrel culture around the world, its political culture will be histrionic and irresponsible, its bureaucracy will be widely hated, incompetent and omnipresent, it will be largely multicultural but divided between a small envied upper class and a large lower class, it will have widespread criminality and government corruption. Its rural areas will be irretrievably impoverished, its urban areas will have a few slices of culture and prosperity amid the ghettos. It will be loud and colorful, brazen and constantly celebrating increasingly meaningless holidays based around commercialism. It will also have very little freedom for anyone in the middle class. It may be a one party state entirely. The bulk of its economy will be black market and gray market. It will constantly be on the receiving end of short term and high interest international loans. Its taxes will be high and widely avoided. Governments will regularly fall over economic crisis. It will not be the America we have known, it will be an alien land, the kind of place that the ancestors of so many Americans did their best to escape. And their descendants too will look for a way out, constantly looking for a place to emigrate to and a way to take their money with them.