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The Role of Government Essay

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness… it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”(Thomas Jefferson; original Declaration of Independence)

The role of the government is to provide an organized society, but it also provides an enforceable set of moral and ethical values which control the functioning of our society. Our forefathers wrote within the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights a code of moral values. They formed this government to have power, but not too much power. To accomplish this they wrote in articles that limited the use of the power given to the government. By doing this they enabled the citizens of this country to remain free and not have to worry about the government having too much power or control over their lives. The constitution was written with language that gives power to certain parts of the government and denies power to other parts. It also guarantee’s the right of individuals by providing that the government rules that must be followed. A system of checks and balances was implemented to insure that equal power is maintained.

Thomas Paine wrote that “rights are not gifts from one man to another nor from one class of men to another… it is impossible to discover any origin of rights otherwise than in the origin of man; it consequently follows that rights appertain to man in right of his existence, and must therefore be equal to every man.” The origin of human rights are either given by God or granted by the government. If you are on the side that human rights are granted by the government you must also be willing to accept that those same rights be declined.

I would like to believe that we live in a society where every man is created equal but that is just not the truth. Generations and generations of people are born, go through government paid schooling, get mediocre jobs and live pay check to pay check not ever catching a break. Then you get those people that are lucky. Everything is handed to them and they never have to worry about how they are going to pay their bills the next month. The generation that I have grown up in is very selfish. It is all about what you don’t have. They (the people in the generation) think everything should be handed to them and do not know what an honest days pay is. Many people that I know are on subsidized living or welfare. In some cases it is understandable but, when an able bodied person is receiving more money a month from the government than a person with a stable job, something is wrong with that. More attention needs to be paid to the people receiving these services.

The debate is simple, but the argument on welfare’s benefits and drawbacks is not. On the pro side of the argument, welfare aids poor families and the economy. These families receive food stamps or ebt cards with a certain amount of money calculated by income and number of family members in the household, to purchase food items. Some also receive cash to help with rent and utilities. Welfare hopefully will aid the future economy by allowing children of welfare recipients to attend school and strive for excellence instead of depending on welfare.

On the contrary, welfare is currently a government expense that is paid for by tax payers. The purpose of welfare is to aid a person with monetary needs until they can find a job to support themselves unfortunately, this seldom happens. Some argue that there are plenty of poor families that get by just fine without welfare and other “free” benefits. These same people argue that members of these families have multiple jobs and work extremely hard to just get by, while others sit back and collect a check from the government. It is unfair to the hard workers, and unfair to the tax payers.

It is also said that these people are in their present situation because of their own bad choices in life and that the government owes them nothing. There are also a great number of people that abuse the welfare program. These individuals enroll in the program without the intention of ever getting a job. Others trade food stamps for cash or drugs. There is currently a plan called “Workfare” being introduced to reduce the number of welfare recipients as well as to minimize spending on the welfare program. This plan by forcing individuals to both work and search for work, should reduce recipients and future enrollee’s.

“Not all welfare-state programs currently in force can be dropped simultaneously without causing tremendous economic and social upheaval” but something must be done. “The first step toward restoring the limited concept of government should be to freeze all welfare-state programs at their present level, making sure that no new ones are added. The next step would be to allow all present programs to run out their term wit absolutely no renewal. The third step would involve the gradual phasing out of those programs which are indefinite in their term.” It is stated that this process could be done in as short as ten years and as long as twenty years.

Another role of the government is to educate. In the school year 2004-2005 the government spend 536 Billion in support of Elementary and Secondary schools in the US. This data also includes State and local forms of government along with the Federal Government. According to the US Census Bureau there are approximately 53 million children enrolled in grades K-12. This works out to about 8 to 10 thousand dollars per student in the 2004-2005 school year. The money spent included teacher’s salaries, books and other classroom materials.

The No Child Left Behind Act enacted by Former President George W. Bush required that each state ensure its students achieve “universal proficiency” in reading and math. The problem with this Act is that it allowed each state to define the meaning of “universal proficiency”. Many states set the bar high resulting in a lower percentage of passing students and many states set the bar too low resulting in a higher percentage of passing students. Now the problem with this scenario is what happens when these children graduate from a school that has the bar set too low and go off to college. They are going to do horribly. I know from personal experience that it does not do well for self-esteem.

I went to public school in the great state of California where bi-lingual classes were forced upon me despite my parents’ plea to change classes it was not an option. Proper teaching was not being accomplished and I among many fell behind. In my high school years I moved from California to Virginia where the schools are much better. Because of my unorthodox elementary schooling I had to play catch-up on about three years of things that I should have been taught in elementary school. Now I am not saying that I was illiterate or could not do math but some basic functions like learning what verbs, nouns, or where to place comma’s or how to find the lcm or gcf in math equations were missing. To this day I could not tell you how to do a lot of things I should have learned when I was young.

According to Walter Isaacson (NY Times) “the drive toward common national standards should begin with math and reading. Algebra should be the same for a kid in Albany, NY as it is for one in Albuquerque, NM. Standards should define precisely what students are expected to know by the time they complete each grade and should be accompanied by tests to assess their level of proficiency.” I could not agree enough with this statement. If this were adopted it would ensure that every child in America receive the same education on the same level. It would also help the economy. The companies that produce the books for the school system would have the opportunity to update the books every year this would benefit the students as well. I can remember in school using books that were four and five years old. If you are going to teach students about modern history it would probably be a good idea to have a modern history written in the books right.

“A national system of standards and testing would also permit the gathering of consistent data, down to the classroom level, so that we could finally get more rigorous evidence to answer some basic questions: Do smaller classrooms make a difference, and in which situations? It would also help resolve disputes about different teaching methods, like whether phonics or a whole language approach to reading works best. In addition, we could more easily spot ineffective teachers and they could be weeded out or offered training resources that have proved useful.

The bottom line on education is that no matter who you are, or where you live, having a education especially a good one, is an asset or deep advantage to any individual, and should be sought after and strived for. Regarding the value of education, the inherent value of any item or service is essentially set by the individual wanting to obtain the item or service. This is a fundamental principle, both economically, and socially. My own personal education is only as valuable as I perceive it to be. It is also an indication of the effort put into it. Obtaining a good education is very hard work, and requires a deep sense of dedication. Education’s greatest strength’s are: to act as an agent of socialization, create greater social mobility within the social structure, contribute to social integration and establish social status.

Unfortunately, the problems of our nation are not going to change overnight and not with one person. It is going to take many, many years for things to be agreeable for both sides. Until then people need to read and understand what our nation stands for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” I believe with proper education and time this great nation will rid itself of some of the problems that the welfare system has put upon us and we can life up to what our fore fathers envisioned.












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