Role of Government

Trigger: The Liberal Perspective

In the liberal tradition, a government is formed out of a contractual agreement between the citizens and the state. In this contract, the main purpose of the government is to protect the rights of its citizens. In most liberal societies, the Rights of Citizens, often defined as Fundamental Freedoms (e.g. Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Religion) are enshrined in the Constitution (or the Supreme Law of the State). 2 pertinent examples include the American Declaration of Independence (1776) and the French Declaration of Rights of Man (1798). In the USA, the Rights of Citizens captured as, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. In France, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

Contemporary Philosophy and Law

In contemporary times, the idea that every human being in the world, irrespective of citizenship, class, caste, gender and community has some basic rights that protects the dignity of an individual, is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. This declaration arose from the crimes against humanity during the Holocaust (by the Nazis), and a concerted effort to prevent future occurrences. The legal impact of this, was the acceptance of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as International Law ratified by 72 countries (as of 2010) and the European Human Rights Act of 1998.

Role of Government

A government of a state is responsible to it’s citizens. Liberal governments on the other hand, place a strong emphasis on the Constitutional Rights of its citizens, and government policies have to be executed without a violation of these rights. The Judiciary, (or the Supreme Court) ensures this. Also, the government serves its people and is obliged to provide for the security of it’s citizens, from violence, injustices and foreign invasion. The police ensures that the domestic laws are enforced, and the military ensures that the national defence of the country is maintained.

In economic terms, the government’s main objective is to achieve economic growth and full employment in addition to achieving internal and external stability.

  • Achieving Full Employment: Every government pursue high employment rate in order to achieve/ economic growth. High rates of unemployment will financial and social problems (e.g. Egypt)
  • Minimize Inflation: What is inflation? What is the social and political impact of inflation? (e.g. The Wiemar Republic)
  • Balance of payment (BOP) equilibrium: BOP is a component in National Income Accounting, that keeps a record of financial transactions between a country and the rest of the world. A credit refers to a positive financial transaction and a deficit refers to a negative financial situation. Refer to US-China Trade statistics.
  • Attain and sustain economic growth: Constant economic growth is necessary to improve the living standards. E.g. China’s current economic policies.
  • Distribute income and wealth (Welfare Economics): It is the function of the government to correct/ minimize the gap between the rich and the poor in a society. What are the implications if this is not corrected? How does the government achieve this objective?

Government Budget:

A government budget is a legal document that specifies a government’s revenue (obtained primarily through taxation) and expenses during the fiscal year. In economics, government expenditure is calculated by taking stock of government consumption and investment expenditures (e.g. infrastructural investment, research and development) and transfer payments (e.g. unemployment benefits/ benefits for the elderly/ retirement benefits). With these theoretical premises, analyze, Finance Minister’s Budget Proposal:

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