What is the proper role of government?

Essay by OpheliaDrowndCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2003

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It is inherent to human nature to crave power and likewise, to want to obey. Though these two characteristics may seem contradictory, I believe they are consistent with the foundations of government in general terms. Governments essentially support the "power in numbers" cliché; for what may be impossible for an individual to accomplish alone, may be conceivable, and even simple, for the organized, hierarchical institution of a government. Yet with great power undoubtedly comes opposition and conflict; in the face of change and development, certain values must be sacrificed. Freedom, order and equality are three principles that every government strives to uphold, though each in varying degrees. It is a constant struggle to achieve an appropriate balance of these principles; there are drastically alternating views between whole nations across the globe (democracy vs. communism), and even within a given government, individuals themselves hold different opinions of what is best, or better for society (liberal vs.

conservative). In an attempt to describe the variability of these opinions, I will examine my personal viewpoints as a young, female citizen in the United States of America.

Defining the proper role of government is very much an individual endeavor; this becomes apparent upon the recognition of assorted "extreme" political groups such as anarchists and totalitarianism, and also with the creation of variable political identities such as independents. After completing the IDEAlog self test, I found myself on the border of libertarian and liberal. Though I believe in social reform programs such as welfare and Medicare, consistent with a liberal point of view, I oppose affirmative action as a means to promote equality. And while I support the libertarian view of lax drug and alcohol laws, and laissez faire, I do recognize the need for a governmental role in aiding the poor, sick, and/or elderly.