Bob Garfield in his column in Slate today was explaining what he loved about big government and laying out a lot of the things that government does and calling them big government. The problem is that not all government is big and all civilized developed countries have a certain level of government that collects taxes to fund the operations that the people need government to do. Having a government does not necessarily mean that the government is big.
“Big” government actually is government trying to do too much and trying to make decisions for those qualified to make them for themselves, whether these decisions are economic or personal. The safety net, the Postal Service, the military, law enforcement, homeland security are not big government, but trying to replace successful private industries with these agencies in the safety net or eliminating privacy with law enforcement, homeland security and defense would be big government because people would not have the freedom they need over their own lives.
There is small government that leaves almost everything up to the private sector. There is big government that basically tries to manage the economy even if it does not own the entire economy, but at the very least tries to manage the people in the economy for their own good. But there is also big government that tries to eliminate personal choice and privacy because it does not trust the people to make decisions about their own lives. And these would be the differences between big government and a limited government.