US Government & How It Affects My Life Today
Over the years, I have heard clichés such as “It is your duty to vote,” “Men and women have died to grant you the right” and “If you do not vote, then you have nothing to complain about.” I do not disagree with any of these proclamations, but have a desire to explore how this majority oriented Government of the United States of America affects my life today. Let me discuss this.
First, the government influences where we live. Whether you live in a big city or in a small town, the national government of America makes laws for the whole country. In addition, every state has a government. The laws made determine right and wrong in the society. Furthermore, they determine how a person is expected to behave in the society. Cities and towns in America have courts to take care of cases. Our local governments set speed limits. Laws are also made to keep people’s property secure and control noise. When one breaks one of the laws, the court gives the penalty. Thus, national and local governments work to ensure the people who live in cities or towns are safe (Hamada, 2006). This is saying that the government directly assures our sense of safety.
Police officers or fire fighters further elaborate the issue of safety. The job of these professionals is to help keep us safe. They are our friends. Police officers fight crime, in addition to enforcing laws. Fire fighters assure us that we do not have to worry about fires and accidents. They are trained to handle that. The soldiers also play a critical role; they just killed the dreaded Osama Bin Laden the other day. America now feels safer to live in. The government pays salaries and other welfare services for these professionals. The importance of these jobs to our community cannot be overemphasized.
The government needs money to do its job. This money is availed when citizens pay taxes. Taxes vary depending on the state. Elected officials make decisions on how much of the money we earn can be kept by us. Most of this money is from taxes on property. Taxes may also be obtained on income, food, or retail goods. Local governments may charge fees for specific services such as water, registering a car, trash disposal, and electricity among other goods and services. Though this money helps the government to do its job, it is sometimes very costly on the taxpayer. Money, which you may have used for personal development, ends up in the taxman’s bucket. Worse still is when the very authorities you trust corrupt this money. The US government policy on taxes today (ranging from 15% to 35%) put a big void in our hard-earned incomes.
Moreover, Government influences our health. The federal Food and Drug Administration, for example, determines that drugs, which can help someone in Lithuania, cannot help someone in Washington, D.C. Our health care access is negatively affected by mismanaged insurance costs that are an offshoot of legislation and adjudication. In addition, the government decides how much time off from work one is legally entitled to if you pregnant, sick or on leave.
The US government provides public education to its citizens. Education is chiefly a state and local responsibility in America. States and communities, in addition to public and private organizations, establish schools and colleges, develop the curricula, and establish what is required for enrollment and graduation. A view of the structure of education finance in the US reflects the principal State and local role. For example, $1.13 trillion is the estimated amount being spent countrywide on education at all levels (for school year 2010-2011). A substantial majority of this comes from the State and local sources. Whatever comes from private sources has to be approved by the government. (U.S. Department of Education, 2011) This emphasizes the important role of the government in the provision of education.
In addition, the government may also give scholarships to students. Students sometimes get federal scholarships; an institution, which is recognized by the United States Department of Education, must accredit these scholarships. Governmental committees also determine land use. Land may be reserved for a specific purpose like government land, army barracks, national parks, road reserves, no-man’s land etc. the one may be homeless and landless, he/she cannot invade such a land. The government may sometimes allocate land to landless people when it deems fit.
The government provides recreational facilities to its citizens. There are parks all over the US where one can sit and relax without any bothering whatsoever. Government gymnasiums, zoos, stadiums are galore in many States. Life is thus not boring in the US, thanks to the effectiveness of the US government in caring for its citizens.
The Government develops public infrastructure. One very important infrastructure is a country’s transportation infrastructure. Whether traveling by train, plane, automobile, bus, or any other mode of transportation, one experiences directly the practical effects of choices on policy made by the US government in designing its public infrastructure. We have one of the most advanced public transport system in the world. For example, our roads are expertly built and maintained. This results in fewer accidents in the roads, which in turn leads to high life expectancy. Social improvement also addresses not only America’s competitiveness, but also its high levels of unemployment for the youth can find jobs maintaining the infrastructure.
America boosts of the largest and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organizations. An example is NAACP, whose more than five hundred thousand members and supporters throughout America and the world are the leading advocates for civil rights in communities. Their campaigns for equal opportunity, conducting voter mobilization and fighting racism have made America a better place to live. However, much credit goes to the government for permitting such organizations to function. The Government was responsible for passing laws prohibiting vices like racism. Therefore, we see the effect of the government in our day-to-day life, as now, a man is not judged by the color of his skin but the content of his character.
Policies like the social security policy have made America a dream country. Social Security refers to a social insurance program funded through payroll taxes (Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Tax deposits are entrusted to the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, the Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, or the Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund. This fund is a kind of protection cover to the American citizen. One does not have to worry about life after work, what will happen if a spouse dies etc. Such a policy could only be made possible by a government like the US. It gives me peace of mind to know that though I am working; my retirement days are also taken care of.
The US government has done a lot to prevent inflation. Inflation refers to when prices of goods and services continue to move upward. This can be measured by the Consumer Price Index. Inflation may affect different parts of the economy at differently. We often here oil and gas prices in other countries move up and down rapidly. Inflation hurts ones standard of living. Rising prices will translate to paying more for the same goods or services. Given ones income increases at a rate slower as inflation, ones standard of living declines even if he/she is making more. Inflation’s main result is a reduction in ones standard of living. This has caused a lot of mayhem in countries like Uganda and Zimbabwe in Africa. In a unique way, the American government has succeeded to cushion its citizens from such instances. By doing this, government has really influenced the kind of lives its citizens lead.
In conclusion, we note from the discussion above that the government affects our lives in many ways. It tells us how much tax we must pay, what law we must abide by, policies are set from highway signs all the way to when to register vehicles, the countries and people we should go to war with, what punishment will be given to who, and many more examples. Furthermore, the government affects various other areas such as the food we buy in the store (is it inspected?), the medicines (are they tested and approved?), the car we drive to get home (is it licensed or registered?), the streets (are they maintained?), our home consumed products and income (are you taxed?) and putting your food in the refrigerator (the power company belongs either to the government or is regulated by the government). What about Jack, the Ripper, if it were not for the Government probably he would still be around!