Thursday, September 21, 2006



What is the purpose of government? Why does it exist? Can it ever achieve its stated purpose?

About a year ago when I was in an MPA class over at State, I was arguing with the Student Teacher (a PhD candidate) that was doing a very poor job of explaining market failures. As a response to one of my statements, she blurted out something like, "government is not meant to be efficient", upon which I stated that efficiency was in fact the purpose of the class (Public Policy Analysis). The reality is that the sole purpose of achieving the 'higher education' via an MPA or PhD degree is to apply the learned efficiencies to the bureaucracies of the public sector where these individuals are most likely to find employment. In all my three MPA classes, that was the approach I saw used.

She was, however, correct in her statement. It is folly to expect efficiency of government and even more so, government is not meant to be efficient. Its purpose both in the political and administrative workings is to be slow, lethargic, and inefficient. That, some say, is the value of democracy. What about for the administrative side? Should we value inefficiency with the same fervor? What separates the two?

What really is the purpose of government?

It was supposed to be to secure human beings' natural rights, but that's not the case anymore.

It might be "efficient" if that were all it tried to do.
What is the observed source of government?
Government legitimizes the priveledge of use of force to those in power.

If anything, government of any form sounds inconsistant with the natural rights position as it has been described on this board.

I think Hayek's position sounds pretty reasonable. "[Democratic Government] is essentially a means, a utilitarian device for safeguarding internal peace and individual freedom." (Road to Serfdom).

Of course, that reasoning wouldn't sit well with a natural rights arguments (outcomes never matter!). But then again, neither would Hayek's support of the government limiting work hours and regulating pollution.
I never said I thought that's what government actually does; I said that's what it (as in ours) was stated to do in the first place, the reason the founders gave for creating it.

Sorry. I didn't intend for my post to address your beliefs in particular. :)

I figured you would agree, actually, sincyou tend toward anarcho-capitalist views.
Indeed I do.
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