Ch.1 What is govt - Why Government Observation 1 Left to...

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Why Government? Observation 1: Left to their own devices, people are not very nice to each other. This is one rational for rules. Observation 2: Thomas Hobbes in the Leviathan notes that the basic state of nature for man is ”poor, solitary, nasty, brutish and short.” Observation 3: People have trouble engaging in collective action. What we need from government Rules Rational decision-making Security, protection of property Public goods In the end, government serves as an agent of collective action for these things. Definition Government is an organization that possesses legitimate means of coercion in a society There are three main parts to the definition. Organization o Organization: the institutional structure of government where people carry out their functions. The positions and organization is effectively independent of the individuals, and vary widely in structure. Legitimacy o Citizens are accepting of the actions and policies of government whether they agree or disagree. This is a type of systemic loyalty to the government and what it stands for. Can governments survive without legitimacy? How is legitimacy in institutions built? Exit Historical use of divine decree. Democracy is more contemporary approach. Reputation is the more modern approach. Coercion o Separates government from non-government organization. This is the power granted to government and its entities to accomplish its ends. It is the means by which government can engage in its actions. It is a myriad: Taxes, fines, eminent domain, draft. Wage war, produce and use munitions. Why different types? In democracies (for that matter, any society) governance is the translation of preferences into policy. this requires knowing and understanding whose preferences we are considering. To understand how government can and does deal with these social ills (or policy problems) we need to define what governments can and cannot do. That is, what is the scope of this thing we call government. Want to see how government serves different publics in carrying out its key functions. o Publics are multiple, overlapping groups. They are defined by “. . .perception of the consequences which are projected in important ways beyond the persons and associations directly concerned in them.” Thomas Dewey (1927)
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Social Contracts Government . . . Accomplishes governance and publics interact through an organization. Typically, we think of this organization as arising via a social contract.
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