The Proper Role of Government

Which road to prosperity a country takes begins with understanding the role of government. So what is the proper role of government? This is a very basic question which a typical individual will never ponder about. To most people, government is just somehow there, ruling over us, and doing things for our benefits.


Conventional socialist wisdom (which is prevalent in today's world) argues that we need government to prevent chaos and to take care of us. Government gives us free education, healthcare, it creates jobs, keeps prices low, makes sure that seniors receive retirement benefits, prevents people from making wrong personal choices and doing bad things, enacts policies which help the poor and those in need, keeps criminals in jails, and keeps us safe from external enemies. To a socialist, the more the government does for its people the better off they are. The sad reality is that we too-often judge government policies by their good intentions rather then the means of achieving them and the government's famous record of delivering poor outcomes.


A classical liberal or libertarian view of the role of government is much simpler and it can be summarized in few words: “protection of liberty.” Classical liberal/libertarian society is a free society where people are free to do what they want and take care of their own needs, so long as their actions don't hurt other individuals. For that purpose, government was created by the people to protect them and not rule over them. Government is the servant of the people, not its master. Therefore, the proper role of government is limited to protection of individual's life and property from external enemies, from other individuals, and to mediate disputes. For that purpose government is given power by the people to maintain military force, police force, and judicial systems. These are the primary jurisdictions and reasons for existence of government in a free society.