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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.
  22. Oct 26, 2005 #21
    That's odd. How come the rich pay taxes to provide the poor with food, school, and healthcare? How come most of the m oney for the military that protects EVERYONE comes from the rich? It would seem that, contrary to what you assert, it's the rich who are getting the shaft from the government.

    I suppose you think that the rich need a government to stop the poor from taking their property, right? While this is true, it is also true that the government stops the rich from taking the property of the other rich, and the poor from taking the property of the other poor. And yet no one cries foul when the rich are robbed yearly to pay for things that go toward benefiting the poor.

    It's the rich who are least protected by government, these days.
  23. Oct 26, 2005 #22
    I don't get this. Why would they not go back to gathering? Have they some how lost the ability? Are their minds somehow far too dull to even follow their survival instinct and do what they are successful at to keep themselves alive?

    I'm imagining that there is some reason why you see it that way in our current society and that you are stating it metaphorically perhaps?
  24. Oct 27, 2005 #23
    You can call that the bare minimun the poor need to keep the poor working for the rich at slave wage (Compared to the profit the rich make out of their workers)

    Actualy the rich own the military and make profit from it, if not just look at Boeing, lookheed, NG...


    Kind of true

    Then why are the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer?
  25. Oct 27, 2005 #24
    Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau all say that the state is a means to take us out of the state of nature. They argue that reason alone tells us that surrendering some of our rights to the state provides us with a a better way of life. It's a way of keeping our reason with us at all times, because sometimes we don't listen to it and expend our energy in a detrimental way to others in the community (do something stupid).

    If you study the iterated prisoner's dilema in an ecological environment with a couple different personalities (one that always defects, one that always cooperates, one that is random, and one that treats others as others treat them "tit for tat") which occupy equal portions of a fixed population, you'll find that the personality that defects all the time gains much at the beginning, but loses everything in the end. The always cooperate personality always loses to the defector, but they do very well with each other rather than the defectors who don't get along with each other well at all. The random one is a hybrid of the two and preforms accordingly, but the tit for tat starts by losing a little, but after it gains knowledge about it's environment, it doesn't lose against the defectors, although it doesn't win either, and it cooperates with the cooperators, and it acts randomly against the random ones, so in the end, the entire population ends up being tit for tat personalities.

    Now think of the "tragedy of the commons", where there is a fixed ammount of land, a fixed ammount of people, and a fixed ammount of goats to graze the land and sustain the people. Suppose that scientists deduce that the land can sustain everyone if they all let thier goats graze the land for only 2 hours a day. A defector would think, "I'm gonna let my goat feed for 3 hours, just to ensure that I'll get my portion", and another person might see that other person and justify doing it themself by saying "he does it and nobody stops him, so why shouldn't I do it?", and soon enough, everyone is letting thier goats graze all day, then after a while all the grass is gone, and all the goats die, and hence all the people die. If the people kept thier reason at all times, then they would survive, but they didn't and they all died. That is why a state is agreed upon by everyone by thier reason. It's a way to make sure that everyone keeps their reason, and doesn't go and do something stupid, and if they do then it's tit for tat via the states power (given by the agreement by all the people to surrender some of their rights for the state to use in good judgement).
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2005
  26. Oct 27, 2005 #25
    Because most people who are rich are rich for a reason- they're good at making money. Likewise, most people who are poor are bad at making money. No government intervention is necessary for the gap between these two groups to increase.
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