Importance of Government: Why We Need Governments
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;”
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.