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News What is the function of the state?

  1. Oct 26, 2005 #1
    What is the purpose of a state institution within a society?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 26, 2005 #2


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    The definition of a state institution practically has a textbook definition. If anyone here has a definition that does not match the idea that a state institution's function is to serve the public using public monies, please raise your hands.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2005
  4. Oct 26, 2005 #3
    What of the enforcement of the public morals?

    What about defining the public morals?

    The Welfare state?

    Who makes the laws and what they entail?

    You think the state is responsible just for spending the public money?

    (Asside: the Moderators are HOT today. Nice work!!!)
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2005
  5. Oct 26, 2005 #4


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    Ok, let's try this again. This time without insults. Pengwuino, your outburst was uncalled for, please show some respect.
  6. Oct 26, 2005 #5
    Awww I didn't get to see what he said.
  7. Oct 26, 2005 #6
    Now Now ... back to the topic.

    Clean slate.

    What of the points I brought up?
  8. Oct 26, 2005 #7
    How about we advance it a bit further and rhuminate on what the state should NOT be responsible for at the same time?

    We have the concept of church and state but ... on other threads we have explored issues like religion in public life and overt displays ... Islamic headscarves in schools for instance.
  9. Oct 26, 2005 #8
    Well I tend to look at the state as having a specific reason for existance. Anything not included in this specific purpose would be assumed to be in the "NOT responsible for" category.
  10. Oct 26, 2005 #9


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    To protect individual rights.
  11. Oct 26, 2005 #10


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    Sticks a GOOBF card into TSM's computer. :biggrin: (I'm easy)
  12. Oct 26, 2005 #11
    I agree with Goku. The only proper purpose of a state institution- I assume you mean a government?- is to protect individual rights.

    Imagine that you're living in a primitive society of hunters and gatherers. There's no government at all. You spend your days looking for food and shelter, with maybe the occasional break to get it on with a hot neanderthal chick.

    Maybe it turns out that you prefer the food that grows somewhere else. That's ok, you can get it by trading the people who live there your food for their food, and then you have two kinds of grubs. No government is necessary for this.

    Maybe it turns out that you're much better at finding/building shelter than you are at finding food. That's ok, you can arrange to build/find shelter for people, who will then give you food. No government is necessary.

    Maybe you're good at something completely new (science), that no other person does. As long as someone else wants it, you can trade that skill in order to get what you want and need. Again, no government necessary.

    There's just one problem. A rather mean neanderthal named Og has decided he doesn't like you. Maybe he wants to bash your brains in, maybe he wants to rape you, maybe he wants you to give him all your food. In other words, he wants to violate your right to life, liberty, or property. You need these things to live. What can you do?

    You can't trade with him, because he'll just take whatever he wants. You can't tell him that it's immoral, he won't listen. He won't listen to anything you say, actually. Your only option, if you want to live, is to use force. You'll have to defend yourself by fighting him.

    But there's another problem. Og is a lot bigger than you, and he has a big club. If you try to fight him by yourself, he'll crush you. So what do you do? You find 5 really big guys, and pay them to protect you. You're not interested in a fair fight, you're interested in making sure that you are not harmed. You want your force to be vastly superior to the force that's trying to harm you.

    What if another person has the same idea as you? If you both have your own private armies, it would be extremely easy for a conflict to erupt between you. If you want to avoid this, you'll have to agree to just have one, overwhelming army in the area. An army that can crush anyone that tries to challenge it, and an army with clearly defined rules so that it doesn't become oppressive. Those are the laws of your society, and since some of them might be complicated, you'll need people to interpret those laws and settle disputes over them- the courts.

    That's it. That's all you need. You don't need it to redistribute wealth, you just need it to protect you against force. Because when it comes right down to it, the only power the government really has is the power to use force against people. It's the exact same power that Og had, only more so.
  13. Oct 26, 2005 #12
    Ahahahaha .... :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

    MAYbe in the USA.

    For centuries, the world over this has NEVER been the case.

    And even in America at the moment, regardless of what is stated about 'of', 'by' and 'for' the people, you'll find it caters to industry and lobby groups.
  14. Oct 26, 2005 #13
    Okay ... so the guy who builds the houses decides to leave ... what then?

    So the women decide they don't like gathering and want to try hunting.

    So the women don't particularly like being 'used'.

    So you have elders who have knowledge of when where and how to hunt and become the repositry of lore.

    As soon as societies develop, government follows.

    Even dogs have an Alpha male.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2005
  15. Oct 26, 2005 #14
    Please don't leave me lines like that.

    I am trying to control myself and the temptation is just too great.

    :insert tongue biting smiley here:
  16. Oct 26, 2005 #15
    Somebody else does the job. What's the problem?
    If they're good at it, great. If not, they won't be able to make a living and they'll have to go back to gathering.
    When were they being 'used' in my society? I didn't even mention women!
    Great. In our society, this is called an encyclopedia, and it's completely unrelated to the government.
  17. Oct 26, 2005 #16


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    Idealistically or realistically? I think Gokul is just providing thoughts on the ideal. Knowing Smurf...



  18. Oct 26, 2005 #17
    Oh, please ... why do you judge the word 'government' on the last 50 years of 'the American experience'.

    Do you think this is all indicative of the history of man and all of the world at the present time?

    The question is the 'State' not the 'States' as in the 'USA'.

    Nature reflects government and it isn't pretty.

    When there are no laws, the house builder is enslaved and the women are raped... and no the people don't go back to 'gathering' when they are unsuccessful ... most times they starve.

    What you just condemned was one of the oldest forms of government ... the tribal council.
  19. Oct 26, 2005 #18
    The role of almost all goverments is to protect the rich from the poor.
  20. Oct 26, 2005 #19
    Never has a greater truth been spoken. Bravo.
  21. Oct 26, 2005 #20
    What? When did I judge government by the modern US government? When did I ever mention any real government? It's true that the US government is closer to the ideal than any other, but it still has a lot of problems.
    I agree. I agree about the necessety of laws, that's why my government had them. I do not agree that people will simply give up and starve if they are unsuccessful at an endeavor. Personally, I will try my hardest to live well until the day I die, no matter how many times I fail. If someone else would rather give up and starve to death, I feel no sympathy.
    ??? I never condemmed old people sharing their knowledge, if that's what you mean. I just pointed out that it's not really a form of government.
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