What Purpose Should the Government Really Serve?

Universal health care, tax cuts for the rich, and laws that restrict what we can do with our own bodies whether it be marijuana or abortion. These are all very relevant and contentious issues in our society today. The underlying question that is always present in any question of changing the government’s function is what the government should actually have its hands on. I think one thing that people often see the government’s function as is to force people to do things that are right but they wouldn’t do otherwise. Of course, this becomes a huge issue when we realize that we can’t agree on what is actually right yet. This leads to the current problem we face: the two parties are divided on major issues and so there is a struggle for power to create force in the government to change things that only half of the country support. As soon as the power changes sides the new party in power quickly fights to undo all of the changes if any were actually able to be accomplished. Ultimately, this leads to what most people think the problem with the government is: it never gets anything done. There are a few problems to this line of understanding the government’s function and so there are problems with how the government operates in light of that.

In my last post, I talked about how true success in a country would be one that allows all possible freedom while encouraging informed and moral education and upbringing. With these two things, humans would be able to flourish individually and as a society simultaneously. Unfortunately, our current government isn’t always on the side of freedom and especially not on the side of setting up very informative, relevant, or moral education. Additionally, because the government is seen as something that gives power to viewpoints people think should be forced not only does this restrict the idea of freedom but it creates a desire for power. So this leads to the ultimate question: What purpose should the government actually serve?

This has been the question since societies and governments originally started forming. This is the substance behind the debate between capitalism and communism. As I stated in my last post, capitalism went a better direction than communism but it didn’t get everything right. Here are the things that I think the government has a place in:

  1. Infrastructure
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Probably the most easily agreed on point of what the government should do is to provide proper infrastructure to all areas of its land. Infrastructure means taking care of the basics: running sanitary water, electrical lines, gas lines, roads, and public transportation. These are things that either the government could set up and then allow private companies to use or that the government could do itself. Currently, there is a mix between both. The government, of course, already takes place in infrastructure development but it could be way better. First, it should be equally developed in all places and not based off of the property tax in the area. Instead, the funds should be evenly divided for each area by capita meaning places with higher populations would get more funding because more infrastructure needs to be developed for more people. Secondly, the government should be aware of the needs of our planet meaning that wherever possible clean energy should be prevalent over fossil fuels and natural gas. Lastly, the development of infrastructure should respect the existing land that it is developing on. Learning to work with nature rather than trying to control it.

2. Education on Morality, Health, Creativity, Self-Sufficiency, and What Is Relevant to Live a Good Life as an Individual

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The government already provides education but this is another thing that is influenced by property tax. Schools in an area with lower property tax get less funding for their schools. All children should have equal educations. Politicians always like to say that our children are our future but don’t seem to think that all children are. Every child should be given an equal opportunity to learn and excel in any way they could. In addition to changing how funding is distributed there should be a change in how education is set up. It should be more individualized and emphasize important life lessons like morality, creativity, self-sufficiency, sustainability, and health. These are things that even adults realize they don’t know enough about and, as a result, end up dependent on more than they could be as well as not reaching their full potential.

3. Serve as a Check to Moral Behavior in Business and Maintaining Peace For Individuals

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This is one of the largest points of contention when it comes to the role of the government: What should and shouldn’t be allowed? The government should definitely regulate business but how much should it be allowed to interfere with what is “just business?” It may be a surprise given how much I focus on health but I don’t think the government has any place putting taxes on things like sugar content or soda size. I think this infringes on the freedom that we should all have. Hopefully, with proper education on health, people would choose the better choices when it comes to these things anyway but the choice shouldn’t be forced or weighed differently for them. The government’s place in business is ensuring there is no racketeering, fraud, embezzlement, and insider trading. Essentially regulating dishonest business dealings as well as protecting the environment.

The only place the government has in individuals lives is keeping the peace. Essentially protecting personal health and property from other individuals and wildlife. The government should not be creating new laws such as drug laws and laws restricting abortion that have to do with a person’s personal body but simply laws that protect interactions between people such as murder and theft.

4. Protecting Nature

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A simple but essential function of the government should be to protect the land in which it governs over. This means making sure business aren’t destroying it, maintaining public lands, and creating and protecting national parks, monuments, forests, and every other form of protected national land as possible.

5. Making Sure ALL Residents Have What They Need so They Can Then Pursue Self-Actualization Through Proper and Fair Taxation: Universal Basic Income

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This may be the largest argued point of a capitalistic society, especially the US. A lot of people would argue that people don’t deserve things to be provided for them and they just need to work however most of those people had a lot of things provided for them to give them a good start. That has been the entire idea of welfare: to give everyone an equal start so they have the chance to achieve their potential and be able to maintain their life without worry. Unfortunately, welfare has gotten a bad name in the US, partially because of racism however a lot of the problem is simply ineffective welfare. 60% of the mandatory spending from [mostly] tax money in the US is spent on welfare: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. If we gutted this entire program (still leaving things related to health such as extra disability income) we could give everybody a basic monthly income to cover their necessities like food, water, healthcare, housing, and transportation. This allows people to get what they need while also boosting the possibility of them achieving more. It also keeps the government out of industries like food because it doesn’t have to worry about providing food just the money to buy it.

6. Incentivizing What Is Helpful for the Health of the Planet and All People

A large problem with our current government is that it incentivizes all of the wrong things while trying to force people to do good things. It’s a psychological fact that people respond better to positive rewards than to negative consequences. The government should incentivize things like having fewer children due to overpopulation, creating less waste, using electric cars (something already happening), using solar panels, using public transportation because of the environment, or buying local to support the sustainability of communities over corporations. Additionally, these things could and should change depending on the needs of the world and society.

7. Distributing Currency

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Lastly, the government should distribute currency as it already does simply because it’s a central system that should be unbiased. I also think that the only reason new currency should be distributed is for each new person that is born so that there is a certain amount for everyone. How much would be a long discussion but I think that this amount should be created and distributed to the individual themselves once they turn 18 or complete basic high school education. This money could help give the individual a good start in life as well as create more money to circulate into the industries of their choice. This would be a much better alternative than creating money for loan purposes, essentially giving banks money to put people in debt as it currently stands.

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Political commentator, life coach, and moral philosophy fanatic. Here I talk about the perspectives, actions, and habits we can take to simply make life better.

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