ses; 7) absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority; 8) a well-disciplined militia; 9) the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; 10) economy in the public expense; 11) the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; 12) encouragement of agriculture; 13) the diffusion of information and the arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reason; 14) freedom of religion; 15) freedom of the press; 16) freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus; and 17) trial by juries impartially selected. (290) More succinctly, these essential principles became what we know of as the Bill of Rights. But as time and alterations (abuses) have drastically changed these functions of government, they will be the focus here as what government's purpose should still be today: to establish, maintain, and protect the rights of the people, not merely a bunch of entries in a 200-year-old speech.
The greatest challenge, though, is how to define and...
This is because people disagree on what government should do. Some point to the quality of life as the most important: Bob Scheiffer, political philosopher for CBS, writes, "I still hold with the ancient Greeks who said government has only one purpose, to improve the lives of citizens." (www.cbsnews.com) Others focus on social order and power: as Social Studies and History teacher Mr. David Sedivy instructs, the government's role involves "maintaining social order, services, and enforcement" and "ensuring a "balance of power." (http://members. tripod.com/mr_sedivy) Others take a more concrete approach, naming the government's role as that which includes functions because "they work, they provide for the common good, they promote our security, and they help us improve our lives;" they are, says CIO Sam Johnson, "only those things we must have and can't afford to do independently. The list of these items is short: Roads, Education, Safety." (http://comment.cio.com) Still others claim that specific areas need the focus, as Anthony Gregory reports, writing, "most limited-government libertarians say that the only legitimate function of government, in a free society, is the criminal justice system." (www.strike-the-root.com)
While many over time and across the nations maintain or have maintained that the purpose of government is to protect, as Arlen Specter said, to ensure the general good of citizens, as Edmund Burke once suggested of Parliament, or to insist on human-ness, as Anthony Trollope claimed, still others are bitterly sarcastic about government's purpose, identifying in mock detail the abuses of such power. A blogger commenting on Ukrainian politics, for example, writes, "The purpose of government is to