Since the annual state of the union address by the president is this week,I thought it might be useful if we look at the various parts of the government.After all, it is the federal and local governments which impact our lives the most.And since they do so by,laws,regualtions,rules that govern just about every aspect of our lives,it brings to mind the question,just what is the purpose of government? Now we can approach this question from several different ways.We could use the generic answer,the purpose of government is to govern.
Now that answer can mean many things. That individuals join together for safety, for mutual survival,to insure that the strong do not take advantage of the weaker,that there are common rules that govern the way in which individuals live with one another.The earliest examples of this is Athens in ancient Greece,the early days of the roman empire.This was the earliest example of people joining together and choosing those that would lead them.Everywere else the strong imposed their will and said that their rule was the will of the god they worshiped.This would be the last time for over 1200 years that the people would choose or limit the power of those who ruled them.Those were examples of the main purpose of government,to govern for the common good.Which is why after 2000 plus years we still look upon them with reverence and the model for governance.
After 1200 years we come to the Magna Carta,which was a charter of rights and liberty which the nobles wrestled from King John of England in 1213A.D.It would be another 560 years before another experiment in democracy would be tried. And 222 years later that experiment is still going strong, and an example for the structure of modern political countries.O.K. now that the history lesson is finished, we can concentrate on what the modern ideas of government are.
To those on the liberal side of the political spectrum it has come to mean the preeminence of social issues, environmental concerns,and fininacial equality.On social issues it means laws that level the playing field between races and the sexes. To right old wrongs, to protect the environment from the harm that captialism does in the purist of what they say is the almighty dollar.This they would argue is what the purpose of government is.All else is secondary to the role of government.
To those on the conservative side of the political spectrum it has come to mean, living within ones means,to protect the country from enemies around the world. To allow captialism to flourish with the minimum of interference from the government.To give business a level playing field with the rest of the world in respect to taxes.It is taxes and regulations which have brought our country to this economic crisis we face today they would argue.
Now the two sides seem miles apart in the way they view the purpose of government, but are they? What do you believe is the true purpose of government.Just how has this experiment in democracy survived for the last 222 years? Has the world finally chosen the correct form of governance, that of ancient Athens.Did the founding fathers take the lessons of Athens to heart when they envision the new country that was to be born. And just what were the lessons that they thought we should hold dear.So when we listen to the state of the union address by the president tomorrow,will his words match what you believe, or will they change the way you view the role of government?Thats a question only you can answer.