Higgs discusses the “ratchet effect” — the concept that having grabbed authority in a crisis, government institution’s rarely relinquish those powers.

Robert Higgs is an economic historian whose writings focus on the causes and means of government growth. He is the author of Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government (1989). Higgs speaks here at a Future of Freedom Foundation conference in 1995 on the ratchet effect‐ the idea that governments tend to grab power during emergencies but do not cede it completely after each crisis abates‐ and gives his own analysis of what it might take to slow the growth of government in the 21st century.