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  • Share experiences, both good and bad, about going to a government office for a service.
  • Do you know the departments and agencies responsible for the particular goods and service?
  • Name agencies include identification of the local agencies that are more directly known to the public.
  • Knowing that government is funded by your taxes, what do you think people should learn to do about public services? 

This session makes more concrete what we should expect government to do for the people, for us. It relates to the importance of choosing leaders well at all levels of government, from president down to the barangay.

The constitution mandates government to insure the welfare of all citizens with protection of their rights, protection against foreign incursions as well as order and safety in the street. Government should also see to it that basic needs can be provided for through systems for food supply, shelter, education and health by creating the agencies that plan and ensure that the work of providing for these concerns is being done. So there are private as well as government hospitals and most private institutions are also asked to do their share to provide for those who are in need and cannot afford to pay for the costs.

Government does not on its own grow the food or cure the sick. But it must see to it that there are production systems and services for these needs.

Elected leaders should recognize that having been voted by citizens, they owe citizens these services, protecting them and providing for their needs. 

Through a tax system, citizens share the burden of funding the needs of society, Thus, elected leaders and all public officials should be evaluated on the basis of how government has managed to fulfill these obligations to all citizens of the land, wherever they may be.

For this to happen, government should aim to;

1. Distribute the goods of society to the greatest number of its citizens and members;  (departments for education, for health, for housing, for labor for workers, social welfare and vulnerable citizens) 

2. Maintain law and order so that social and political arrangements provide for public safety (police and military and other civilian agencies, justice system, the court system, protection of rights and freedoms, commission on human rights) 

3. Develop a system of defense and protection against enemy attacks. (military Armed Forces of the PH, which serves under the civilian authority, the president is the commander in chief and the AFP is supervised by the Department of National Defense.)

Democracy and Economic Wealth

Democracy itself is not specifically designed to produce economic wealth. But it has been found to facilitate and foster the kind of competition and opportunity that promotes the creation of wealth, free market forces that foster competition, establishing companies in the production of those goods and commodities, which may have to be done on a large scale to make these affordable.

Democracy and the value of freedom are seen as drivers of private enterprise leading to creation of wealth. Capitalism as an economic system is based on “the use of wealth of private individuals to generate income,” assigning an important role to individual capitalists.

In contrast to the authoritarian or communist system of assigning this process to the state or government, the democratic system opens up the economy for those in private enterprise to participate in wealth creation, enlarging the economy to thrive and create more economic goods.

The meltdown of financial institutions in early 21st century has shown that even this system can cause problems, that free market forces need to be checked to prevent the kind of collapse that hurts the entire economy, causing massive loss of jobs and investments. So there is no perfect system.

The primacy of capitalism in the West has been challenged by the mixed approach of China’s development. Retaining immense government control in all areas of society, China has somehow achieved economic power that has included the country among the major powers of the world, enough to rival the US.

The lessons learned include the need to always review how the national economy is being managed as whatever system requires adjustment, applying varying measures as necessary.

The purpose of democracy is not to create a society of wealthy people. But a democracy can with wise and competent governments manage an economy so it can provide opportunities for everyone, increase economic goods for the benefit of the greater numbers.

Through crises of whatever nature, governments are responsible for maintaining the systems for basic services of education, shelter and health, and ensuring food supplies that people can afford. 

The principles of social justice underlies the obligation to facilitate and deliver economic welfare for all, to spread goods and services to all its members. Social justice raises the understanding of our obligations in society, that all must be involved in “the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth.” We usually think of the distribution of wealth through philanthropy as a form of charity. It becomes more forceful when we recognize the sharing of economic goods as a matter of obligation in justice. The 1987 Philippine constitution has integrated and enshrined social justice in various provisions.

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