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United States of America. Limited Government


The dispute about measures of individual freedom as contrasted to the unifying, authoritative body of power is one of the most intense ones in the USA. The reason for this lies within the scope of the US founding principles that gave practically unlimited authority to people who were entitled to govern themselves in contrast to other countries imposing much stricter regulations on their citizens. The United States of America have been propagating and declaring freedom for everyone as a basic principle of their functioning, thus exercising much less control over daily activities of its nation that it is usually witnessed with other states and government:

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“Clearly, it was the plan of the Founders to limit government, and to a substantial extent they succeeded; for in the grand sweep of things, America has fared rather better than many other nations that sought also, in their own ways, to limit their governments” (Pilon, 1999).


Taking into consideration how propagated and nurtured individual freedom in the USA is, it becomes hard to understand how it can be impaired. And truly, the ability to limit individual freedoms was initially secured by the Founding Fathers who found out that the size of federal government affected the level of freedom in a negative way, so it should be kept on an adequate level in order not to decrease the number of liberties and not to prevent citizens from enjoying them fully. To understand the attitude of Founding Fathers to the government it is enough to recollect their mistrust and disapproval to governmental growth. While creating a new, free and independent state the Founding Fathers insisted that the government should not expend much of its authority on private sphere of civil life because such an intrusion would result in the violation of human freedom to make certain decisions and follow the chosen life paths. Thus, the discussion of what government can be considered good and functional is still continued:

“To advocate good government is to recognize the indispensable role that political authority plays in a healthy community. To advocate limited government is to understand that not everything necessary for a community to be healthy is the responsibility of government” (Messmore, 2007).

And indeed, one can witness the negative influence of extended government structures on the quality of their operations and productivity. Officials who have to correlate their activities and decisions with a huge number of relative institutions and agencies will act much slower and will fail to react to the urgent needs of the US citizens. If a certain group of population voices some needs or requests to the government and turns to its representatives, it will take much longer to give the constructive response to these needs.

In addition, it is highly important to mention the varied opinion of people living in the United States to the issue of limited government preventing outstanding theorists and politicians to find out the real value of government, its purpose and profile it should correspond to in order to suit the needs of the nation.

“Identifying the proper tasks and limits of various social institutions is bound up with a society’s understanding of the good life and the good community – its moral vision of its defining goods and purposes” (Messmore, 2007).

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The way organizations, individuals or households understand the US founding principles and the way they have been altered in the course of time differs so significantly that at times it is hard to outline the overall attitude and opinion in the country existing towards the discussed issue.

This finding has revealed the fact that at times citizens feel securer when they witness the active intrusion of the US government into their life justified by their care for the nation they are responsible for. However, at times this care may become unbearable for the citizens and results in the excessive expenditures that are not substantiated by any reasonable arguments.

The work of Rauchut (2008) dedicated to the analysis of Kirkpatrick series also presupposes a certain measure of doubt about the role of government as it should be in the contemporary reality. The author analyses a great number of writings on the issue of the extent to which the state government should take part in human lives and makes a conclusion that according to all logical inferences the US government cannot have the power it has gained now. For this reason in his work dedicated to the American vision and values he asks a rhetorical question:

“How, then, has our government, founded on principles of limited government, enumerated powers, and checks and balances, grown beyond the warrants of its own Constitution to pursue the “mischief” that so many of us have come to accept as the normal state of affairs?” (Rauchut, 2008).


My personal opinion on the topic is that the US government surely conducts its functions in a much more responsible and efficient way than it is done in many other countries. However, the funds of all innovations initiated by the legal institutions are taken from the pockets of taxpayers; besides, all additional agencies and programs initiated by the government take additional time and raise additional concerns of the nation. This way the communication between institutions becomes vaguer and results in less action. For this reason I am for a more efficient but less numerous government that will fulfill its initial functions and responsibilities designed by the Founding Fathers.


Messmore, R. (2007). A Moral Case Against Government: How Government Shapes the Character, Vision and Virtue of Citizens. First Principle Series, No. 9, pp. 1-12.

Pilon, R. (1999). The purpose and limits of government (Cato’s letter) (Unknown Binding). Cato Institute.

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Rauchut, E.A. (2008). American Vision and Values. Bellevue University.

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