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What Is the Individual’s Duty to His Government? What Is the Government’s Duty to the Individual?

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The concept of government as provider comes next: government as provider of goods and services that individuals cannot provide individually for themselves. Government in this conception is the solution to collective action problems, the medium through which citizens create public goods that benefit everyone, but that are also subject to free-rider problems without some collective compulsion.

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In the matters which most immediately affect private life, power should remain in the hands of the citizens, or of the several states - not in the possession of federal government. So, at least, the Constitution declares. Americans have no official cards of identity, or internal passports, or system of national registration of all citizens - obligations imposed upon citizens in much of the rest of the world. This freedom results from Americans' voluntary assumption of responsibility

In matters of public concern, it was the original intent to keep authority as close to home as possible. The lesser courts, the police, the maintenance of roads and sanitation, the levying of real-property taxes, the control of public schools, and many other essential functions still are carried on by the agen­cies of local community: the township, the village, the city, the county, the voluntary association. Citizens' cooperation in voluntary community throughout the United States has been noted and commended in the books of Alexis de Tocqueville, Lord Bryce, Julian Marias, and other distinguished visitors to the United States, over the past two centuries:

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Nonprofit charitable organizations work to identify underlying causes of social problems and effect change to benefit the public. Many significant social ideas of the past century in this country have been nurtured in the nonprofit sector (Gardner 2003). Nonprofit organizations fill gaps in areas such as social services, human rights and environmental protection. Nonprofit organizations reinforce both individualism and community responsibility by establishing an arena of action through which individuals can take the initiative to promote their own well-being and to advance the well-being of others in the community. Individuals, as responsible members of their communities, may give their time and volunteer their services to help obtain needed improvements. Active participation on local school boards and parent-teacher associations improves educational services. Citizens can take an active part in the community by offering their knowledge and talents to different local organizations or committees

Participation in town meetings, public hearings and community projects is important for community improvement and identifying and solving problems (Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids 2003).

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Finally, though the rules and responsibilities vary greatly through time and place, governments must create them. Governments provide the parameters for everyday behavior for citizens, protect them from outside interference, and often provide for their well-being and happiness.

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Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids. "Duties and Responsibilities of Citizens: Community Responsibilities." 19 September (2003).

Cauldron, Shari, Fister Gale, Sarah, Greengard, Samuel, Hall, James E., et al. "80 people, events & trends that shaped HR." Workforce . Costa Mesa. Jan (2002).

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