Why do we need government? What do Readers think?


This is a foundational question.  I like a set of principles and then developing specific policy ideas from that.  We certainly don’t really hear this coherently discussed in most cable shout fests.

Cafe Hayek (Russ Roberts who is a libertarian)

via Why we need government.

The U.S. Government Printing Office has a web site to help kids understand our country. There are different sections for different age groups and grades in school. For K-2, here is how the site explains the role of government (HT: Gregory Adams):

Why do we need a government? Imagine what your school would be like if no one was in charge. Each class would make its own rules. Who gets to use the gym if two classes want to use it at the same time? Who would clean the classrooms? Who decides if you learn about Mars or play kickball? Sounds confusing, right?

This is why schools have people who are in charge, such as the principal, administrators, teachers, and staff. Our nation has people who are in charge and they make up the government.

Hmmm. Not quite what I’d say. Feel free to take a shot at a better explanation in the comments. Remember, this is for kids who are between the ages of five and seven years old.

Here’s my take:

Many things we do are best done as team not individually.  Building a park that everyone will be able to access should be done by team where everyone contributes as everyone will benefit from this open space.  Government at its best requires contributions from us all for activities that require team effort.


2 responses to “Why do we need government? What do Readers think?

  1. Government at its best requires contributions from us all for activities that require team effort.

    I’m quite interested in those particular instances where the government encourages the society to contribute to a common cause besides voting for a [president/policy] and paying taxes. I do not, unfortunately, perceive labor and entrepreneurship as a valid response, simply due to the fact that it has become a mean of survival in our present society, rather than an act of contribution towards a more stable and harmonious environment.

    My point being, is it really so that the government wants its people to bring out the best in themselves, even if it means questioning the current policies adopted? Isn’t it too often now that we see something labelled as “too extreme” (say the protests against education cuts in UK), where in fact, the society makes a contribution towards a better standard of living for its children and the government itself is on the other side of the fence?

    My argument IN FAVOR of government, is that in its current state during this particular present, it is the best way to organize and build a functioning and productive society, and is simply a step in a process, towards a more government-free hierarchy.

  2. I think you may be thinking about does a good society just take people’s nature as generally focused on their own well being, or that of their family, or does it try to get people to live for some greater whole.

    I think I lean toward the former, and think the sate mostly provides for service that can’t be just privately consumed and also cares for those unable to do for themselves (I believe in social insurance).

    You seem to want to exhort a more community oriented mindset. Admirable, but hard to achieve.

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