What Is The Purpose Of The Us Government?
Disputes about the purpose of government stem from arguments about how far the government’s role in protecting and shaping the community should extend. Moreover, the popular notions that “government is best that governs least” or that government is best that just protects individual rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” make it easier for privileged groups to use government for their purposes. For thousands of years of human history, the implicit or explicit purpose of government was to serve the interests of its rulers, be they monarchs, dictators, aristocracies, or ruling classes.
Its shape and scope is relative to new times and circumstances. Before 1763 there was not a right asserted in the Declaration of Independence which had not been debated and discussed by the New England Clergy. (Alice M. Baldwin, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution). It is strange to modern ears to hear that the rights listed in the Declaration of Independence were but the listing of sermon topics that had been preached from the pulpit in the two decades leading up to the American Revolution.
Figure 5This takes us to the present day, where the ultimate purpose of the social contract and its resulting government have become muddled. Lobbying from interest groups, wealth and fame, alternative agendas, and a lack of knowledge and compassion have firmly and comfortably situated themselves in our political sphere. At times, we hardly notice these plaguing components and get caught up in the media and controversial spectacle of modern politics. For this reason, I dedicated this first post to outlining the history and true purpose behind instating governments using First Principles thinking so that we could avoid the spectacle. This ultimate purpose of government is the lens through which we will view the economic problems throughout the course of this blog.
America has no “unwritten constitution.” Ours is a system of written constitutionalism—of adherence to a single, binding, authoritative, written legal text as supreme law. ‘To provide for the common defense’ – The government protects citizens against outside attack, regulates the military and foreign policy, builds defenses, accumulates the means of defense, and wages war if necessary. While all of these definitions help us grasp the meaning of the word ‘government,’ they provide a lot to remember, so let’s summarize. Dr. Harold Damerow, a professor of government and history, gets a bit more specific with his definition. He says that government is ‘responsible primarily for making public policy for an entire society.’ He also mentions that government is ‘the steering mechanism for a given society.’ It forms the policies that keep a particular society heading in the right direction. Government is so ingrained in our culture and so much a part of our everyday lives that most of us, when asked, can’t offer a very good definition of the actual word.
The purpose of just government is to protect the rights of citizens against fellow citizens. Protection against fellow citizens means deterring crime by making and enforcing criminal law and making it clear to people who commit crimes that they are going to pay a penalty. Criminal law is needed because there are vicious and immoral human beings who try to take away the rights of other people. Though all governments enact laws, the creation of and adherence to those laws varies. In a monarchy or dictatorship, laws are promulgated by the ruler.
When creating the Preamble of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers based the government on three main principles, which were inherent rights, self government and separation of powers. Inherent rights are rights granted to anyone living in the United States. Self government refers to government by the people, and separation of powers divides power among three branches of the United States government. The intent of establishing governmental regulations was to prevent the society from collapsing and descending into lawlessness and chaos. All of this requires a citizenry with the skills and dispositions necessary for republican self-government, that is, a citizen body whose members understand and act to promote justice. There are many working parts—the “auxiliary precautions” in the system that Madison and the other leading Founders proposed to achieve the twin goals of effective and safe governance.
The Constitution, written in 1787, is the “supreme law of the land” because no law may be passed that contradicts its principles. When you try to figure out the purpose of government, you can easily get bogged down in all of the many things a government does or should do — from defending the people to managing the federal budget. And if you ask a dozen people what the purpose of government is, you’d probably get a dozen different answers, depending on individual point of view. Fourth, the Preamble states that the Constitution exists to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” The Constitution is founded to protect individual freedom. It is a society where personal liberty, not a duty to the state, is central.