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Importance of Government: Why We Need Governments

Updated on December 7, 2015

What is government?

Before we look at why it is important to have government, let us first find out what government is.

The word “government” is from the Latin word “Gubernare” which means “to steer” or to orderly control affairs. This is basically what all governments of countries do. They control the affairs of their respective countries.

Government can be defined as the group of people or body that governs a country or state. In governing a country or state, the government makes laws, interprets these laws and enforces the laws.

Organs of government

Government has three organs or three arms, namely:

  • The Executive: This is the arm of government whose job is to execute or implement the laws passed by the legislature. The executive is made up of the president of the country, the vice president, ministers, etc.
  • The Legislature or Parliament: This arm or organ of government is responsible for making laws for the whole country. In many countries, the legislature or law making body is called Parliament. In countries such as the United States, France, and Australia, it is called the Senate.
  • The Judiciary: The judiciary is the arm of government responsible for interpreting the law or constitution in the country. The judiciary is made up of all the courts in the country. It is headed by the chief justice.

All the three organs of government mentioned above come together to help the government carry out the day to day administration of the affairs of a given country.

Features of government

These are the two most common features that every government has:

  • All governments have sovereignty. By being sovereign, a government should be independent and must be able to control its people and all its affairs.
  • All governments have jurisdictions. This means that a government has a territorial area where its powers apply. For example, the laws of the American government can never apply directly in Kenya. These laws only apply directly in the United States.

Why do we need government?

There are so many reasons why it is important to have a government. Here are some of the reasons:

  • Government makes laws: There would be total chaos in a society where laws don’t exist. And this is one of the most important reasons why government is needed. The government makes laws and implements or executes them in order to ensure that peace and order prevails in the society. Government security agencies such as the police service, the Armed Forces, etc in addition to the law courts help in maintaining law, peace, and order in a country. Now, can you imagine how the country you live in would have been like in the absence of a government that makes laws and implements them? Life would be unbearable. Everybody would be free to do whatever they want with impunity. Someone bigger and stronger than you could just walk into your house and beat you up, take your children, your wife and all your possession. And there would be nothing you could do to stop him from doing that. As a matter of fact, there would be nothing to stop the tyrant from doing whatever he wants to do since there are no laws to keep him under control. This is what happens in a society without a government. Only the strongest will survive in such a society. But in a society where there is a government, an institution like the police will exist and protect the citizens of the country from the evil actions of their fellow citizens. Simply put, without government there will be no internal peace and security.
  • Government defends the country from external aggression: This is another very strong reason why the government is needed. The executive arm of government protects the country and its citizens from any form of external aggression through institutions such as the Armed Forces, the Air Force, and the Navy. These institutions protect the country from attacks from foreign forces.
  • Government provides good quality life for the citizens: In the absence of government, it would be impossible for all the people of a society to live decent lives. Government ensures that people in the country live decent lives by providing them with important things such as good drinking water, good education, decent jobs, access to good medical care, electricity, etc. The governments of certain developed countries are even capable of providing free food and money to citizens who are unemployed as a result of no fault of theirs. Examples of such countries include the United States and the United Kingdom. The money the government of the United States pays regularly to people who have no job is called unemployment benefit. Simply put, without governments, people would not be able to enjoy reasonable standards of living.
  • Governments ensure your fundamental human rights are respected: Without governments, it would be very difficult for the basic human rights of people to be respected. Good governments have constitutions, and enshrined in these constitutions are the rights and freedoms that every citizen should enjoy. Examples of such rights include the following: right to life, right to freedom from slavery and servitude, equality before the law, right to a fair hearing when charged with a criminal offence, right to own property, right to personal liberty, etc.

While there are several other reasons why it is important to have a government, the above are the most important reasons.

Because of how important and necessary governments are, when Thomas Jefferson penned the famous words of the Declaration of Independence, he made it abundantly clear why governments need to exist in the midst of people.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;”

Conclusion

Sometimes because of the way certain governments mismanage the affairs of their respective countries, some people tend to dislike governments. But whether we like it or not, governments are necessary. Without governments, society would be like a jungle where only the fittest survive. This is why many agree that even the worse of governments is better than no government at all.

Do you think governments are really important?

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    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 20 months ago from Orange County California

      It is not a question of whether we need governments, but to what extent do we need them. When the government exceeds the reach of the people, that is a sign that the government has gone too far.

      The US Constitution has been stretched beyond recognition in the last one hundred years, and most of it during this century. The Federal Government has exceeded its founder's design scope and size.

      The US Government is failing the country and the people because it is too obese, and too pervasive.

      The three branches of government have failed us a checks and balance system. The Congress has been gridlocked in this century allowing the president to be the legislative body of the US. This was clearly not the design of the founders.

      The SCOTUS has been too political in their decisions, and they haven't really made decisions that have resolved the issues before them. Roe v Wade didn't resolve the issue of abortion, nor did their decision on Obama Care or Gay Marriages.

      Yet they are still decisions and the de facto laws of the land, but they didn't help the country or the people.

      ON 911, the government once again failed to protect the country, as they failed in 1941. Not a single defensive was available or employed to stop the three terrorist held airliners. The first one that hit the WTC would have been extremely difficult to stop once in the air, but they could have from their own investigations used the available information to stop the planned attack of the terrorists before it was executed.

      This was also the scenario in 1941 with the Attack on Pearl Harbor.

      The misuse of the 14th amendment in this century is not really protecting the rights of the people, it is allowing a minority to control the majority.

      Your quote

      -------

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;”

      ______

      First All Men

      ...... This didn't include Women or Blacks, it really meant White Men like the founders.

      ---- Created Equal hardly. The original constitution didn't give Blacks equality as they were counted as 3/5 of a person. Blacks and Women were not allowed to vote. It took the 15th amendment, 1865 to give Black Men the right to vote, and the 19th amendment, 1920 for the women to vote. The 14th amendment, 1865, didn't give the black men or women the right to vote. The right to vote is the foundation of our Democratic Republic.

      The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment had no equality.

      ........ Isn't the Right to Vote unalienable?

      ....... How does the constitution define Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? It doesn't!

      ----- The Creator has been successfully challenged by people opposing this concept.

      ...... Once again, MEN means men and Governed also means Men. And that is the way the US Constitution was interpreted by the courts. We have only had women included in the "Men" since 1920. So originally Men was not meant to be the same as Mankind, which would have included blacks and women.

      The need for government is not disputed, but what is in question is the type, size and quality of the government to serve the needs and goals of the people which has clearly not been the case today.

      The founders of the US didn't really consider that in the mid 1800s the two most powerful political parties in the US would be the downfall of their country. The democrats and the republicans along with their loyal party voters have brought and continue to bring the US in decline.

      2008 and later are clear examples of how these parties due to their divergent goals have divided the country even worse than did slavery. The US colors don't run, but they also don't provide compromise in the end result of what is good for the country. The Blue and the Red political party are spread on the map of the US, but the color that is missing is Purple, and that is the blending of both parties for the good of the country and its people.

      Once again, the need for government is clear, but the bigger issue is the quality, size and scope of the government. There are two types of government in the US. State and Federal.

      The original government created by the founders was a small central government to resolve the conflicts between the states, and to represent the US to the rest of the world.

      This concept has been morphed to where the federal government has usurped the powers of the states through the Interstate Commerce and Supremacy clauses.