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What are governments for?

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What are governments for?

Post by boatlady on Thu Jan 14, 2016 5:30 pm

Sorry if there's an already existing thread where this discussion belongs
I thought at this point an interesting topic might be to look at what we all think should be the priorities of government in England (or Great Britain)

Judging by the negative response to Jeremy Corbyn in some quarters, although we may feel there's a broad general consensus about this, that's not actually the case and some people value law and order or defence of the realm over other priorities that others of us value.

I wondered if people might like to do a bit of blue-sky thinking and set priorities for things that we think government should be doing
I'm happy to start the ball rolling with my top ten

1) Education - very important - should be freely available throughout life - educated people can build houses and roads and power plants - they can provide health care, produce food, cook food and importantly, teach the next generation
2) Housing - decent homes for citizens with waterproof roofs, outdoor space, decent kitchens and enough room for the whole family
3) Public Health - maintenance of clean and healthy public spaces, public education programmes to encourage healthy life styles  and the provision of health care free at the point of use to all comers regardless of social class, gender, sexual orientation, race, colour or creed.
4) Transport infrastructure - roads, rail and air and sea travel
5) Utilities and essential services - gas, electricity, water, sewage and now - broadband
6) Social security - a safety net of provision to ensure citizens have access to the necessities of life whether they are able to make a contribution to the economy or not. Recognition that some activities that have social value but no economic value also contribute to the wealth of the nation - child care, care of the elderly and disabled, providing a homely home for workers
7) Employment legislation - fair laws for workers ensuring a living wage and fair treatment in the workplace
Cool Public safety - police services, penal institutions, the law - a police force that is motivated, adequately staffed and transparent in its operations; a prison service that prioritises restitution and rehabilitation rather than punishment; a probation service that actively supports ex offenders and provides real alternatives to offending.
9) Defence - the diplomatic service, the army, the navy and the air force focussed on defence rather than offence, peace keeping rather than war mongering
10) Trade and foreign policy - working with our international partners to ensure that the products of the educated British workforce sell at an advantageous and fair price in the world market.

There you are - idealistic I'm sure you'll all say - feel free to pick holes and/or submit your own top ten
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Jan 15, 2016 9:40 am

Hard to fault any of the above, but fundamentally the only requirement from any government is protection for its citizens to live their own lives in relative comfort, free from undue fears of starvation, sickness or attack.

Beyond those basic essentials lurks the Nanny State, which is always expensive, often intrusive and occasionally misguided. The lessons of history are clear on that. Elected representatives, whether on the Board of a company, a local authority or a national administration, will always feel the need to be seen to be doing something usually when masterly inactivity might have been a better course of action.
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by Penderyn on Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:44 pm

The function of the state is to reinforce the power of the dominant class, and we hope to give it back to the working majority.
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Jan 15, 2016 5:42 pm

Which again raises the question of how the dominant wealthy class in the UK manages to persuade the WORKING MAJORITY to maintain them in the driving seat, at elections, Penderyn.

(Which is discussed in other topics on this forum.)
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by Redflag on Sat Jan 16, 2016 11:02 am

We all know what this Tory gov't is for filling the boots of there donors and friends, while they kill off the disabled & vulnerable of the UK.
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by Penderyn on Sat Jan 16, 2016 2:25 pm

oftenwrong wrote:Which again raises the question of how the dominant wealthy class in the UK manages to persuade the WORKING MAJORITY to maintain them in the driving seat, at elections, Penderyn.

(Which is discussed in other topics on this forum.)

Well, certain things are obvious, as we know: control of the educational system, control of the media, deliberate destruction of the unions, deliberate reduction of workers' living standards until they are terrified, encouragement of cynicism, so that people don't bother to vote, deliberately turning all opposition into evil idiots, etcetera etcetera. It's not difficult if you control almost all the money.
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Jan 16, 2016 5:51 pm

A tasty cup of hemlock beckons!
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by Ivan on Sat Jan 16, 2016 11:48 pm

That’s a fairly comprehensive list in the opening post of this thread. I would place the most important of those items in the following order: 1. Health – without that, nothing else matters. 2. Social security – to ensure that everyone can afford 3. Housing and 4.Utilities and essential services. 5. Education – very important for developing an individual’s potential, but ineffective if social security is inadequate and children are hungry. One newspaper has reported recently than a third of all teachers are taking food to school to feed their pupils. 6. Employment legislation to give people job security, a limit to the number of hours worked, paid leave and an income on which they can live comfortably.

The only addition I would make to the original list is animal welfare. I happen to agree with Gandhi that “the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. No more badger culling, or foxhunting (which does still happen because the law is so weak and rarely enforced), much tougher penalties for animal cruelty and lifetime bans from keeping animals for those who are convicted. The halal slaughter of animals without stunning should be outlawed, and if that offends anyone’s religious beliefs, let them become vegans.

Of course our lists are really about the size of the state. Back in the 18th century, governments were really only concerned with law and order and defence of the realm, and I suspect that many Tories aim to take us back to that situation. In the 19th century, we started to get legislation to regulate conditions in factories, and the first shoots of the welfare state appeared just before the First World War.

I don’t think the state should play any part in people’s sexual activities, as long as children and animals are not involved, and I think people should be allowed to marry whoever they want (even if it’s Rupert Murdoch!) and women should be free to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy. I’m also inclined to decriminalise (not legalise) all drugs, at least for an experimental period. All of that’s about small government.

However, when it comes to economic issues, I believe in big government. I think the state is best placed to plan what is needed for the economy. After the establishment of the NHS and the welfare state, I think the New Towns Act of 1946 was one of the best measures ever introduced by a UK government. The concept that all of a family’s basic needs would be catered for in one place – homes to buy and rent, schools, an industrial estate, shopping parades, surgeries and a hospital – seems much more sensible than relying on haphazard development coming from so-called ‘market forces’.

Those who say that they believe in small government – usually those with right-wing political views – never seem to have thought the idea through properly. A ‘lean’ state might sound efficient, but how many of its advocates want emergency services to be available when their houses catch fire or get flooded? A smaller state invariably means greater power for corporations, and with it less democratic accountability. I also find it ironic that many of those who claim to believe in a small state also support the death penalty; the state doesn’t get much bigger than when it gives itself the power to end your life.

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk/t830-big-or-small-government
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by Redflag on Sun Jan 17, 2016 10:47 am

Penderyn wrote:Well, certain things are obvious, as we know:  control of the educational system, control of the media, deliberate destruction of the unions, deliberate reduction of workers' living standards until they are terrified, encouragement of cynicism, so that people don't bother to vote, deliberately turning all opposition into evil idiots, etcetera etcetera.    It's not difficult if you control almost all the money.

Good post Penderyn & I agree with every word, what I want to know is what the UK public going to do about it "Sit on there Hands just like they did in May 2015.  Otherwise this Tory gov't WILL take us back to the days of Charles Dickens.
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by Penderyn on Sun Jan 17, 2016 1:25 pm

To keep the basic stuff in mind, our job is to stop trying to win the odd percentage of tory voters and instead win back the millions of lost voters who could wipe them out if they still believed our Party was theirs.   The election of Mr Corbyn was a good start:  now we have to restore democracy, first to the Party via Conference and the removal of the careerist MPs, then into society in general.    A key step is where we chickened out in the 'eighties:  we have to establish a free press.
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by oftenwrong on Sun Jan 17, 2016 5:23 pm

" The only centre-left paper is the Mirror ...."

http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=1562617
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by Redflag on Mon Jan 18, 2016 11:13 am

Penderyn wrote:The election of Mr Corbyn was a good start:  now we have to restore democracy, first to the Party via Conference and the removal of the careerist MPs, then into society in general.

You spot on Penderyn those carreer Labour MPs need to get a grip and put the majority ahead of the minority in the Labour party !
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:45 pm

I may have imperfectly concealed my distaste for the current administration, but at least an attempt is being made to provide adequate funding for nursery-places for those Mums who'd like to work.

But the assistance (subsidising) on offer won't actually balance the books.  Why? Because it won't meet the reality of Nursery Providers' costs.  The really good Nurseries provide a clean, warm, welcoming and fully-equipped facility.

They do that by providing "extras" such as foreign-language tuition and dancing-classes (!) at extra cost, to the normally well-heeled clientele. Stripped back to basics for the government-subsidised this is no longer an economic business proposition and the Nursery-providers will choose another way to make a living.

Though it definitely seems a good idea in abstract.


Last edited by oftenwrong on Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by boatlady on Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:48 pm

government subsidised day care in my experience, is a warehousing facility for the children of the poor - nothing to do with care, or education
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:50 pm

Yes. Not unlike Grenfell Tower in that respect.
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Re: What are governments for?

Post by boatlady on Sun Sep 03, 2017 6:57 pm

Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Sad Sad
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Re: What are governments for?

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