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The Web Cliffology

Defining The Role Of Government

by C. Moult, Publisher,

There is an ongoing debate on what the size and scope of government should be.  On one hand, some people believe in limited government while on the other hand, some people believe in more government.  This article will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the two beliefs and make recommendations on what the balance should be.  Let us first start with the idea of limited government then move on to discuss big government then explain what the advantages and disadvantages are with respect to the application of both beliefs. 

            Limited government means that government plays little or no role in
the society in which it is implemented.  Before getting into great length, let us ask ourselves this question: should we have some government or no government at all?  Having no government at all would mean that the people have all powers and are free to exercise whatever decisions, acts, or even violence that they please.  There is a downside to this if we want to promote a civilized society in which we are all govern by the same general principles, ambitions, deeds and behaviors.  Too much freedom can be counter-productive in which the same freedom that allows us to build a great business or empire, will give others the freedom to destroy your enterprise or hard work if they are so pleased.  Some examples of good restrictions and laws are: copyright laws, environmental protection and laws against theft, etc. These are examples of why some regulations or restrictions are important for growth, harmony and shared sacrifice in the form of a decent governmental structure. Based on these examples, there is no doubt that having some government is important. The question is not whether or not we should have a government, but how much of it we should have.  Limited government by definition is a government that only reaches where people cannot do better by themselves and a government by the people and for the people.

            With respect to big government or too much government, there is hardly a positive finding in this application.  Too much government is mostly a negative thing.  Even if the government is working on behalf of people who want big government, it is counter-productive to the ambition, self reliance and the individual responsibility that all people should have.  The government should want to see people individually taking responsibility for their own lives and striving passionately for success in many shapes and forms.  This equals more tax dollars for the military and other programs that are necessary to keep up with the world.

           The role of government should be about balance.  The government should not be too big, neither should it be too small.  If people and businesses were 100% responsible and thoughtful in every way, shape or form in respect to each other, then there would not be much of a need for government.  There are other things that businesses usually do not do such as spending money to reinvest in communities.  Businesses today are mainly about profits, but though profits usually create some jobs, they do not extend much into the communities by way of building and promoting schools, infrastructure, bridges and highways which are some of the very things that can help businesses become even more profitable.  Because of this, the need for government becomes a bit more necessary in which government can pick up the tab for what businesses either cannot or will not do.

            To balance our economy, there has to be an emphasis on education, infrastructure, regulations and freedom.  The government can use the quote from the first republican president of the United States to create this balance and determine what the size and scope of government should be. Lincoln said, quote: "government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more." We need a balance between regulations and freedom in order for a civilized society to work in an optimum way.  As stated earlier, too much freedom can be counter-productive and too many regulations can also be counter-productive.  Some great examples of what the role of government should be are: creating and maintaining a military, laws that protect us against each other such as environmental protection that will keep us safe from the irresponsibility of some big businesses, laws against theft that will keep people and businesses safe from others who want to steal and laws and regulations that recommend farmers to produce healthy foods (free from pollutants) if they intend to sell it to others.  Most people agree with these laws (the very things that businesses do not provide).

            Social programs in many ways do for people what they cannot do better by themselves such as the military. If we thought that it was best that every man be responisible for himself if we were under attacked by another nation, then we would do that. Instead, we created a social military system that everyone pays into with the shared goal of protecting our country.  The interstate highway and bridges were created so that people can get from one point to another expiditedly and efficiently.  With this system, businesses benefited and experienced huge growth.  It is for the same reason why we created the railroad system and everyone contributed for the shared goal of being able to travel more efficiently from one place to another. 
             The main political fight with respect to social programs has to do with education, unemployment, and a social safety net for poverty and low income people.  If we feel that we are responsible for the success of other people even though self reliance and individual responsibility is important, then we are more incline to support the idea of a safety net.  If not, we would tend to think that if a person cannot survive under the individual responsibility and self reliance clause, then that person deserves to suffer and potentially die as a result of that belief.  If we are truly ambitious, the latter should not be how we look at life in which we share the same planet, continent, country, state, county or community because the lack of success from others means the lack of being the best we can be.  Let us face it, in life, there will always be less fortunate people among us and the question should be how to deal with it.  The most effective way to deal with this is in a way in which we all benefit when we help.  A person who refuses to help himself will be a lost cause, but a person who is less fortunate who is willing to help himself if he is provided with the resources, should be helped.  We should look at each person from the moment they enter into this world as a human capital, a potential to become the next president, or the next great business man or the next best scientist or engineer no matter what financial status he was borned into.  Since the less fortunate will always be among us, we should look for every possible way to get the best out of them because doing so in a thoughtful and responsible way, will benefit all of us.  This is where the government can play a role in providing the resources for these folks to get ahead if they are willing to do so.  Providing these resources, however, should be done in a cost effective and well streamlined process to get the best bang for your buck.

            Finally, for those who expect businesses to be the dominant force in the economy, then people will have to expect more from businesses in the form of reinvestment in the communities, building bridges, highways and building schools, etc.  Therefore, if businesses cannot or will not provide all of the things that are necessary for a balanced economy, then government will rightfully take its place where necessary.  The premise of this article fits within the notion of a balanced government that only does for people what they cannot do better by themselves and nothing more.  The government should constantly make sure that it does not overreach in any way, shape or form.  The idea of individual responsibility and self reliance is very important, but as we succeed individually, we should come together in the end and look for ways to make our country and society even better by reinvesting it. As a reminder, public and private investments tend to spur growth most of the time as long as it is done in a well thought out and effective manner.

10 --- Comments:

  1. KevinJ from Tennessee6/30/2012

    What we need is centrist government. The idea that we should be so far to the right or so far to the left is highly absurd. A country will fail if it is too liberal and a country will fail if it is too conservative. Governing from the center is the best way to go.

  2. So is Obama centrist or far out left?

    1. I think he is relatively center to slightly left, but not far left as some would think.

  3. KevinJ from Tennessee6/30/2012

    John, I pretty much think that Obama is a centrist president when you look at how he governs. You might disagree with all this, but entitlement spending is pretty much at the level that it was when Eisenhower was in office. Other than the stimulus to boost the economy, I think he governs under the premise that government should only do what people cannot do better by themselves. People are saying that food stamps are at a all time high and rightfully so, but that is to be expected in a slow economy. Plus some of Obama's spending is carried over from the Bush years.

  4. At what point do we hold obama accountable for the economy?

  5. MillerTime317/01/2012

    I think this article hits the nail on the head. It is all about balance. I wonder which party creates this balance the most.

  6. Neither party is perfect in terms of centrist balance, but I happen to think that the dems are closer to the center than the repubs.

  7. yeah...I think the Gop are further to the right than the Dems are to the left.

  8. So from what Miller is saying, Obama isn't to be blamed for anything?

  9. He is. He isn't doing anything out of the tradition of former presidents.


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