Conversation Culture

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**This is the in-person event, from now on every week we'll have an in person conversation on Mondays and a zoom conversation on the same topic on Thursdays**

What is the purpose of government?

When I went to university, I was taught to look at the government as an eight hundred pound gorilla. You don't mess with one.

Thomas Hobbes famously described the government as a "great leviathan", a beast that keeps us in awe of its power. It is through a monopoly on the threat of violence that that we have learned to play nicely... or so the theory goes. From this point of view, the purpose of a government is to keep us from mischief, to prevent us from hurting one another unnecessarily. To break us out of the game theory cycle of kill or be killed.

Andrew Yang has commented that one of the only things that governments do efficiently is transfer wealth from one class to another. Could this reflect the true purpose for government? To establish a social safety net?

Is it more broad than this? To try to correct for the mistakes that are made in the free market, or to address the problems that it misses? Or even to actively constrain its activity?

Do we have to admit that there isn't just one neat reason for government that it really does address a hodgepodge of different societal needs?

Besides the question of what it *does* do? What *should* it do? What does the government tend to do well? What does the government do poorly? Why does it succeed where it does and why does it fail where it does? Will it always be needed or could you imagine a world where we had another way of organising society? In your vision of the ideal world, what role would the government play if any?

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