Role Of Government


Role Of Government Essay, Research Paper

Henry David Thoreau often took extreme positions on the issue of government and

its role in society. To this somewhat rebellious transcendentalist, government

should not govern people at all and law was often meant to be broken. Thoreau’s

belief in individualism was so strong in fact that it seems he often took sides

on an in issue simply to be in favor of the minority, whether the majority was

right or wrong. Certainly, it is important for one to be himself and stand up

for what he believes in. However, to Thoreau’s statement that "that

government is best which governs not at all" is a bit extreme. Some form of

government is necessary first and foremost to prevent chaos and widespread

disorder. Without laws and consequences for breaking those laws, people will do

exactly what pleases them without regard to how it affects others. Theft and

murder will become everyday occurrences because men without ethics will see no

reason not to commit these crimes. In fact, the entire population may ending

killing themselves off. In addition to an increase of crime, a significant

increase in poverty is likely to occur without government leadership. Without

government funding, public schools, hospitals, and transportation would be

nonexistent. This in conjunction with the lack of welfare funds would obviously

lead to a society of poor, uneducated, Webb 2 and sickly people. Without a

doubt, a society must be under the rule of a strong government power in order to

function properly. Thoreau’s statement is also too harsh because it has no

regard for the fact that in a democratic society, the people essentially are the

government. The whole purpose of a democracy is to ensure that the people govern

themselves. Rather than being ruled by a dictator or monarch, members of a

democratic society are able to have an input on how the government runs.

Ideally, any law that is formed in this country is formed because the majority

of the population want it to be formed. Rather than complaining about the

existence of a government, Thoreau should have rejoiced at having the rights

people in America have. It is doubtful that the laws of any other country would

have allowed Thoreau more freedom or independence than the laws of the United

States. If he felt otherwise or disagreed with the majority of the population,

he should not have chosen to live in the United States. Certainly, one can see

that Thoreau’s complaints about the censorship placed upon individuals by the

government were unjustified. Obviously, Thoreau went too far in stating that the

government should not govern at all. Without a government that does its job in

governing the people, disaster will occur. While it is not the government’s

place to suppress the ideas or expressions of its people, it is vital to

maintaining organization. As a society, people should strive to find a medium

between total lack of government and total control by the government.

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