What Role Should Government Play In Our Lives?

We pay taxes — income, property, sales — to the government. We vote for the people who hold public office at the local, state, and federal levels. What, then, should we expect in return?

In some circles, government is seen as a bad thing. However, it must play some part in our lives.

For example, perhaps that role is to protect us from other countries and threats across the world. A strong military would perform that task.

Maybe, though, the government can keep us safe from other dangers besides bad actors around the world. The current pandemic is an example. A strong state or federal entity can coordinate efforts that individuals, or even powerful companies, might not be able, or motivated, to do.

Does that also extend to other threats? Climate change? Dirty food or water? Guns?


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where we discuss the questions ‘Where does authority come from?’ and ‘What does your favorite music say about you?’


Whenever disputes between individuals arise, there needs to be some intermediate to resolve them. The legislative system serves as a way to codify this, and the courts allow for interpretations of those laws. Is this a valid governmental role?

There are many other tasks that the government oversees: education, land governance, roads and bridges, libraries, postal service, and on and on. Are there areas that the government currently manages that they shouldn’t, in your opinion? Conversely, are there roles it should have, but currently doesn’t?

If you like the government or not, it is true that in a democracy the government is a manifestation of the will of the people. In your mind, what do you want our civic institutions to do? What role should the government play in our lives?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? Where does authority come from? What role does technology play in your life? How much power does an individual have?

Are You Free?

In the United States political world, there has been a lot of talk about being free lately. From owning guns to wearing masks to availability of abortions, one person’s freedom is another’s oppression.

A number of freedoms, or rights, are explicitly mentioned in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. In particular, the first and second amendments, freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, respectively, are the most famous. Are efforts to keep protests safe limiting freedom of speech? Are all efforts at gun control an infringement of the Second Amendment?

In addition, there is also a fierce debate going on regarding voting rights, and both sides of the political divide feel that they are defending democracy. One side wants increased voting access to previously under-served communities; the other thinks that is an invitation to fraud.

At the heart of many of the ongoing arguments is that people, regardless of their political affiliation or socioeconomic standing, feel their freedoms slipping away.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where we discuss the questions ‘Freedom or security?’ and ‘Is technology neutral?’


Not to mention the vanishing of privacy in the age of social media. Similarly, our personal information is becoming more available to corporations. Credit card companies, for example, know more about us than many of us realize. Cell phones allow us to be tracked wherever we go.

On a personal level, how do you feel about freedom? Are you free? Do you feel free? Are your freedoms threatened, and what can be done to strengthen them?

Related questions: Freedom or security? What are you doing to make the world a better place? Personal rights or convenience? How can we encourage debate?

Democracy Or Tyranny?

Democracy or tyranny?

Democracy Or Tyranny?

What Is Justice?

When a tragedy occurs, we often hear pleas for justice for the victims. This raises a difficult question: Just what, exactly, is justice?

Ideally, perhaps, justice should mean the application of the law. We want to see our laws applied evenly to all, regardless of class, race, political party, or income. But what if the law itself is unjust?

More generally, we want people to be held accountable for their actions. But what “accountable” means can vary from person to person. What one person thinks is fair and just, another may think is too harsh, or too lenient.

Does the victim’s opinion on what exactly is considered just for the crime committed against them matter? What if the opinion of the victim does not match what society as a whole believes?

From a legal standpoint, the victim’s opinion might be taken into account, but the victim does not get to make the final decision on what is just. That is up to a jury and a judge. However, if a jury and judge come to a conclusion, but the victim does not feel that justice has been served, has it?

Justice is an important concept in our society. There is even an entire federal organization, the Department of Justice, whose sole job is to see that justice is done. But what recourse is there if people feel that fairness is not being achieved?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? Where does authority come from? How much power does an individual have? When should you not follow the law? What is the purpose of incarceration?