Saturday, March 27, 2010

Left Right & Center - Introduction to Government

Crowds wait outside Leeds Town Hall, Leeds, We...
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If you read political news, then you would surely have encountered this expression. If you see my 'About Me', then you would have observed that 'good governance' is one of my many interests.

I am really ignorant about how government works. But from my childhood we have been seeing that we blame Government for all our ills. Roads are not good - blame it on the government, Prices are rising - blame it on govt. , no  power, no water - blame it on govt. Ok, whatever is not good - blame it on the government. That increased my interest in why government is not working well. And, I think under the tutelage of Atanu Dey, i have learnt well. During the same time many things were happening around the world which increased my interest towards government and governance.  I closely followed the campaign of President Obama as he was running for President of U.S.A. Similarly at home, just before that there were general elections and I was rooting for Lok Satta to win in the elections.

As I read more and more, I was trying to get a feel what a government should do and what a government is expected to do. Okay more on this in my next post. For now I want to introduce the basics of government and about the 'Left, Right And Center'

So what is a government from WikipediaA Government is the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises its authority, controls and administerspublic policy, and directs and controls the actions of its members or subjects[ 

What is the function of a government? Again to quote from Wikipedia

According to supporters of government,the fundamental purpose of government is the maintenance of basic security and public order.[15] The philosopher Thomas Hobbes figured that people were rational animals and thus saw submission to a government dominated by a sovereign as preferable to anarchy.[16][17] According to Hobbes, people in a community createand submit to government for the purpose of establishing for themselves, safety and public order

 O.k Acceptable. They try to maintain law and order in the society. Good till there. I think this is the 'Center' of the political discussion.
From this, the discussion is different - The government has different questions ?
Is it just enough to provide basic security and public order ? Can't it do anything else ?
The answer is inevitably Yes as you see all the governments in the world do.

The discussion of left and right arises here.

The government collects taxes from us to do the basic things it has to do. What does it do with the remaining money - It can help people in need.

Far left thinks something like this - "It is government's responsibility to see that all are living atleast with basic needs. It can redistribute the wealth so that everyone has atleast something to eat and has minimum basic things." It can start from just helping in time of need and it can create a vicious cycle whereby those people will be expecting from the government and the people who are producing will lose an incentive to produce more than required and hence the productivity decreases. It is closer to socialism and communism. Liberals come are termed as left.

Now the far right feels that this is wrong  and rightly so as people will not work but just get paid by the government which is not at all useful as the productivity drops. They say that government should be very less, people are  best are to decide what to do with their money and they even cut taxes. The ill effects of this is before us to see - vast income inequalities and hence resentment between people and masses being poor. This is capitalism for you. Nationalism & conservatives come under this.

Ofcourse, now a days no government is completely Left or completely. They will try to balance them as they have to cater to all the people.

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