Government Size and Role

It’s always puzzled me—just what is the scope of the various governments? Why is it so?

United States

In the United States, we have a federal system. The Constitution put the federal government is in charge of national defense and interstate relationships, while the states legislate on daily life—law and order, schools, and licensing. However, the federal regulation of interstate commerce has wrested much authority from each state’s power. The upshot is that we are one country with 50 states rather than 50 countries under a unified umbrella of common interests, although not every state and every citizen accepts that reality.

Within each state, municipalities control their own schools, have independent police forces, and taxing authority.

Government’s Nature Scope

Let’s start with a discussion of government’s purpose.

The United Nations and its activities as well as global economic groups like G-7, World Bank, and the like. But sticking to governments, their different purposes give rise to different scopes and sizes. In broad strokes, how are their scopes defined?

In the diagram below (Separation of Authority)

Government Size and Role


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