Tag Archives: government

The first drawback of government

I discussed two benefits of government in the previous essay. These benefits and the drawback I discuss in this essay are all concomitants of government – they exist wherever there’s political authority of some kind. They are not opposites that can be weighted against each other on a scale of good vs bad government. In fact it might be arguable that the one drawback I discuss in this essay, secrecy, is more extensive under democratic governments than under a dictatorial ones. Every manifestation of government will exhibit its own specific blend of mutual trust, shared resources and secrecy. Only practical experience can show if a specific combination of them is good or bad.

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Two benefits of government

In order to judge if government works well or badly, it’s useful to begin by considering why government is needed in the first place. This essay began with the working title three tasks of government, then three functions of government. This choice of words presumed a very active role for elected and selected government officials as public problem-solvers. As I thought about it some more I concluded active intervention is just one side of justification for government. The other side is the mutually beneficient interaction between citizens that good government passively enables.

That’s why I write about the benefits of government. Government officials don’t necessarily need to know and nurture the benefits of their work as they go about their tasks and functions. In fact some benefits of government arise merely from its founding (especially from foundational laws), others from stability. So in principle we don’t have to assume that the government is elected or even approved by the people. The two benefits I present in this essay will in any case be the same, even though their scope would certainly be greater under democratic government. I will in the following refer to the governing authority interchangeably as “the state” or “the government” or “the authorities”. Continue reading

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