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What is the Proper Role of Government? - The Arcadian Commonwealth

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November 6th, 2004

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11:12 am - What is the Proper Role of Government?

Abraham Lincoln answered this question most succinctly when he said: "The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but can not do at all, or can not so well do, for themselves–in their separate, and individual capacities."

In other words, the job of government is to do what individuals cannot do for themselves. There are those who say that our government should not be in the business of X or Y. I say that it is valuable to our country to have these discussions, but ultimately the government is in the business of whatever the people say is the business of government.

One job, however, is specifically written into our nation's founding document, the US Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."

Good stuff, that. If once accepts this basic premise of purpose (and there are many who will not), then all one must do is devise a government that supports this mission. This is easier said than done, obviously. One only has to look around at the numerous and spectacular failures of government guarranteed rights throughout history.

The most spectacular evolutionary success in this arena is the British government, and the most spectacular revolutionary success is the Constitution of the United State of America. There is no success that cannot be improved upon, however, and I disagree with many of the reformers of both systems.

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