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?