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Q1: In your opinion, what are the aims of government?
When Ronald Reagan was first elected President of the United States in 1980, he was quoted as saying: “Ronald Reagan came to Washington to bury government, not to praise it. The government is not the solution to our problems. The government is the problem.” yes, good governance seems to an increasingly scarce commodity in existence.
This takes a rather negative view of the role of government. However, people expect the government to solve certain problems. These are aims that government should fulfil, the most important being the economic well-being of the people. In today’s society, people do not just want to satisfy their basic needs, they also want greater purchasing power so that they can enjoy a greater bundle of goods and services. The government is always expected to boost economic growth and make the people better off. Economic well-being is the key to stability in the country. Countries with a wide gap between the rich and the poor are most susceptible to revolutions. Such was the case in Central America in the 1960s and 1970s when unrest prevailed, resulting in instability and stunted economies. Bismarck once said, “Men are like animals, they are contented as long as they are well-fed.” The government must make the economic well-being of its people the top priority. Apart from maintaining peace and prosperity, this will also increase the chances of re-election of the democratic authorities.
Another major aim of government is to ensure the stability and security of the country, not just internally but externally as well. Economic prosperity may lessen the problem of internal chaos but there is also a need to counter external threats. The international community is not a fairy-tale story where everybody lives together in harmony and lives happily ever after. The successes of a nation can arouse the jealousy of her neighbours or other ill-intentioned nations seeking to flex their military muscles on an expansionist policy. This can seriously dam age the progress a nation has made. In August 1990, the rich but militarily weak Kuwait was overrun by Iraq. Even though it has recovered somewhat, Kuwait has still not regained its economic strength of the 1980’s. At the risk of incurring the wrath of peace groups, I still think that the government should also aim to build strong armed forces to be used as a deterrent against would-be aggressors should diplomacy fail.
Government should also aim to improve the physical and mental health of the people. Environmental standards must be set to prevent over-zealous entrepreneurs from poisoning the earth’s atmosphere and natural re sources. A country of sick men will be of no use to any body. For humanitarian as well as practical reasons, the government should seek to provide health care for the people. American President John F Kennedy’s Medicare and Lyndon B Johnson’s Social Security Amendment Act in the 1960s are good examples of the state provision of health care. The consequences of falling health standards are most evident in India now where the plague is having a field day killing people. Governments must act now and make health care their top priority or it may be too late.
Last but not least, one of the main aims of government should be to educate its people and try to establish a nation of scholars. The people are the nation’s most valuable resource. They are the ones who contribute to the successes of the nation economically, socially and politically. In fact, a nation is made up of its citizens. It has been proven that people who are more highly-educated produce a larger output of goods and services and are a source of social benefit to the community. There fore, maintaining and raising educational standards should be a major objective of the government. A good example is Singapore where more than 90% of the population is literate. Its strong economic performance and stable society bear testimony to the benefits reaped from a nation of highly educated people.
In conclusion, the aims of a government should be to promote economic prosperity, maintain security and in crease the physical and mental well-being of its people. Its fulfilment of these objectives (aka good governance) is a reflection of the successes of a government’s policies.