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CHAPTER IV

THE DUTIES OF GOVERNMENT

Introductory. It is very necessary to form a clear idea of what government ought to do, and what it is unwise for government to attempt. There are many different opinions about the proper duties of government. There is a class of men called anarchists who do not believe there should be any government. They believe that each man should be allowed to do as he pleases. Still others, called communists, believe that the state should control nearly all our actions. They would have all the railroads, mines, farms, in fact everything, owned by the government. According to the communists, the government should determine what the occupation of each man should be, and all property should be held in common, and shared equally.

The answer to the anarchist is that no man could have security of life or property without the existence of a strong government, and that without the cooperation of all the people, which government makes possible, we could not have public roads, schools, and many other things which make life easier and richer. The answer to the communist is, that if the government takes complete charge of our lives it destroys individual liberty, which is the birthright of every man, so long as he does not interfere with the liberty of his neighbor. A society composed wholly of anarchists would make the world a den of wild beasts; one composed wholly of communists would

make all the world a school-room and all the people children.

The Three Departments of Government.-Every government that governs well must do at least three things. It must make laws, it must execute, or carry out, the laws, and it must explain and apply the laws to individuals. No matter whether a government is a monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy, everything it does belongs to one of these three departments of the work of government. An absolute monarch makes, executes, and applies the law; an aristocracy does the same, but the work is divided among a few; in a democracy these three acts of government are more clearly separated, and are performed by a greater number of persons, but in every case these are the three most necessary duties of government. These divisions of the public work are called the legislative, the executive and the judicial departments of government.

In a representative democracy, like the United States, the lawmaking power is put into the hands of elective bodies of men. These men are chosen by the people from among themselves to make the laws. They form what is called the legislature.

In a republic the president and certain other officers associated with him form the executive department. They give the necessary orders for carrying out the laws.

Most laws need little explanation, for great care is taken to make them clear, but in many cases it is difficult to determine just what a law means, or to what people it applies. In such cases the judicial department, composed of the judges and courts, determines the

meaning and application of the laws. The judges not only decide what the meaning and application. of the laws are, but also who have violated them and what degree of punishment shall be inflicted for disobedience to the laws. Thus the business of the judicial department of government is a very serious

one.

It is of great importance to keep these three departments of government separate so that each may act as a check to the abuse of power by the others.

The Chief Duties of Government.-We shall now speak of the actual duties of government; that is, the subjects about which it may properly make laws. Some of these tasks of government are absolutely necessary in any well ordered state; others are necessary in some states but not in others, according to the character and surroundings of the people of the state.

The first and most important duty of the government is to establish and maintain peace and order. The state must be protected from the attack of foreign enemies, from civil war within its own borders, and from the violence of robbers and outlaws. Every one knows this, yet sometimes the citizens are unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to secure peace and order. Whatever the cost to the state and the loss to individuals a government should compel peace. country that allows continual robbery on its highways can make no progress and needs a new and stronger government.

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An even, firm, and prompt administration of justice is the second duty of government in importance. The punishment of crimes and the settling of disputes

about property are a part of the work of preserving peace and order. They are the efforts of the government in time of peace to prevent disorder. Justice should be even; that is, it should apply to all classes alike without favor; it should be firm; that is, the penalties for crime should be sufficient and the decisions of the judges should be unyielding; it should be prompt; for delayed justice is often the greatest of injustices, as when a person dies in jail while awaiting trial for his alleged offense.

Third in importance comes the determination by the state of the civil and political rights of the people. Every government should make plain to every citizen just what his personal rights under the law are and what political liberties the state considers it proper to allow him. As we have learned, there is no fixed number of political rights that the citizens of a state should have. The number and kind of such rights change with the progress of government and the particular conditions in which each state finds itself. In time of war even personal rights may be suspended for the sake of the public safety. In time of peace the spread of education, and other causes, justify the granting of larger political rights. The determination of these rights is the most delicate and difficult part of the duty of government.

No rules can be given for the exact way in which the state should perform these duties. In some countries the state must take charge of many things in the lives of the people in order to secure peace, justice, and political and civil rights. In other states much may be left to the good sense of the people themselves. It is in deciding when to interfere

with the actions of the people, and when not to do so, that a legislature shows its wisdom.

Political Freedom and Individual Freedom.-The right of a people to choose its own rulers and to make its own laws is political freedom. If, however, the masses of the people are ignorant and unruly it may be necessary for the state to use force to compel obedience to the laws. Thus, at times, a people with political freedom may have very little individual freedom. The presence of many robbers, of demagogues, or other disturbers of the public peace, may make it necessary to restrict the freedom of the individual very much. The ideal government tries to preserve the political liberties of a people and at the same time to give as much individual freedom as possible. We have already said that in some of the smaller republics of South America there is much political freedom but little individual freedom. The people elect their own rulers and lawgivers, but these countries are disturbed by revolt, robbery, and selfish politicians who abuse the power which the people have given to them. On the other hand, in a country like England or Germany the people have little political freedom, because their rulers are hereditary monarchs, yet the government interferes very little with the freedom of the individual in his private life.

Liberty and License.-Liberty, then, does not mean that each is free to do as he pleases, but only that each is free to do right. Every Filipino may memorize with profit the words of Apolinario Mabini on liberty:

"Many talk of liberty without understanding it; many believe that if they have liberty they have complete freedom to do the bad and good alike. Liberty is freedom to do right and

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