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The Proper Role of Government

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  535 ratings  ·  56 reviews
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The title says it all! This explains the proper role of the government.
Kindle Edition, 24 pages
Published 1968
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Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I can now see more clearly why it takes a moral, educated people to be governed by our Constitution. If people do not value truth more than convenience, and principle more than entertainment, this form of government truly is inadequate to govern them.

This book helped me to see that we are far more Socialist as a nation than I had before understood.
Leopold Benedict
Benson expresses a classical American conservative viewpoint of government. The government has the duty to protect individuals rights, liberty and property but no right to redistribute wealth or establish welfare programs. This relies on the premise that individuals rights are god-given and the government is created by men. Thus the government is not legitimized to infringe on the individuals rights.

The problem is that he just claims that these rights are given by God. If you don't already
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Short and good description on Role of government.
May 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
This book is a very short, powerful essay on exactly what you expect--the proper role of government. The author shows very clearly the fundamentals of government and compares the good--the proper roles of government--with the bad--the improper roles that have entrenched themselves in modern America. He quotes Frederic Bastiat and Thomas Paine and John Locke and Thomas Jefferson and George Washington quite a bit. My favorite bit is his test for government programs that all citizens would do well ...more
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a quick read but you will want to spend some time with it because it is so meaty. Benson's arguments are very solid as he describes the role of government and why we have them. I especially love the examples about how taking from one group and giving to another is really legalized plunder. He got some of his ideas from Frederic Bastiat who he quotes extensively (Benson is much easier to read). It makes so much sense that our leaders and the way we vote should be based on principles and ...more
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Definitely worth reading. It is short and to the point. Even if you don't agree with everything in the book it is very informative on the government and the constitution.
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: freedom
The most succinct treatise of our government's ills, and how to fix them!
May 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The edition I read was full of typographical errors that at best made it slightly difficult to read and at worst completely changed the intended meaning of a sentence. For example:

"If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can h.e [sic] denied by government. I, for one, shall ever accept that premise."

In those two sentences my complaints are made evident. Obviously "h.e" should be "be" and though it may not be
Nov 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Starting with the dictionary-defined flaw that we should all agree on, Benson speaks of socialism as if synonymous with "feeding the poor" but fails to mention economic subsidies.

He also gives a fictitious history of the fall of the Soviet Union - affording no credit to the Balkans, the Russian people, Gorbachev, mass executions and national hunger at the hands of Stalin, or Stalin's corruption *of* socialism itself - and attributes the entire collapse to the very concept of socialism. By this
There must be numerous versions of this out there. My library copy has the same cover as this edition- The Proper Role and Improper Role of Government, but without the words "and Improper Role." It also has additional credits on the bottom crediting the compilation to Hans V. Andersen, Jr. Inside, Governments May Be Used to Preserve or Destroy Freedom by H. Verlan Anderson is included after the Benson article.

I agree with much of Benson's philosophy of smaller government, but disagree with many
This is definitely worth reading, despite when it was actually published. The message and principles that President Benson teaches in this book are simple, basic, and precise.

President Benson's teachings of moral, just laws for social, economic, and political are of great value even in our times in the 21st Century. The ever growing need to restore our republican form of government in the United States could never be better than now. We need to cast off the chains of socialism and the false
Oct 08, 2013 rated it liked it
I was initially surprised at all the discussion of the Church of LDS on here, until I discovered the pamphlet's author, Ezra Taft Benson, had presided over that church until his death in 1985. In light of that knowledge, his politics might be comfortably compared to those of recent GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Here, Benson spends the first sections establishing the nationalist viewpoint, and the second half of his text enumerating the reasons why America should fear and shun ...more
May 18, 2009 rated it liked it
I agree with quite a bit of the basic principle in this pamphlet, but I am troubled by the logic. He states "(I) believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society," but then his arguments rest on the fact that government is instituted by men and only possess the powers entrusted to them by the governed. If, in fact, governments ...more
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Tessa by: General Marriott (Mom)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I feel like this article is the modern version (well, relatively speaking) of Thomas Paine's "Common Sense". Benson gives a compelling argument using everyday illustrations and examples of the restriction of freedom due to legal plunder. He's drawing on and quotes the works of French economist and philosopher Frederic Bastiat. This article was published in 1968. The common sense principles of why men create a government in the first place and what happens when those selected to represent step ...more
John Hibbs
Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Ezra Taft Benson served in various government capacities, including serving on Eisenhower's cabinet as Sec'y of Agriculture until his death in 1994. He was an outspoken critic of socialism in all its forms and this pamphlet really speaks to his political philosophy as well as giving a very broad history of tax policy, welfare, etc. He successfully brings to light the perversions of authority and ignorance of the original intent of founders and statesmen that has plagued the U.S. for the past ...more
Oct 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have been so concerned with the way our government is being run. The foriegn policy, the economy, open borders, the North American Union. There is so much out there that needs to be understood for what it is. I have read this pamphlet before, but I took it off my shelf and read it again today. It is AWESOME!! If you wonder what you should vote for or against read President Benson's talk. He gives you some guidelines or questions to ask yourself that will help you to know whether or not the ...more
Celeste Batchelor
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Updated 2-24-11: I read this for the second time, also watched the video at I was struck by how pertinent the information is for today's political climate. They were aware of the principles of correct government policy then and we are farther away than at that point in time. I wish people would wake up, open their eyes, and see the peril we are in. The United States is nearly lost!

This is a must read for all LDS members and for anyone who cares about the United States. It is truly
Jodi Z
Aug 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lm-book-group
Should be required reading for every American, it will impact the way you see so much of what our government undertakes. There is such power in simmering things down to basic principles against which all actions can be measured. In conjunction with studying this, I highly recommend either reading or listening to a speech given by Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and one who has studied extensively the idea of giving. Find the speech here: ...more
Chuck Finely
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The philosophy of this manifesto should be central to all Americans regardless of age, race, position, or any other such demographic within the United States of America. It serves as a primer to a more serious study of moral law and the proper role of government. Through careful review of Benson's sources and their respective literary works, a powerful message can be delivered to the heart of mankind regarding morality and the true nature of our existence.
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Everyone in America should read this. If you understand the need and role of government then you won't vote stupid, and you won't ever wonder how to vote again. He teaches principles, not facts. You can read this online somewhere. It's really short. I've acted out the sheriff story many times to my children and to seminary students, etc. In five minutes everyone from the five year old to the teenager gets it!
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: political
A short but hard hitting synposis of the PRINCIPLES underlying good government. How do you tell if the government should be acting in any particular role? This short treatise gives you the tools to understand whether or not anything should be a function of the government. Along with the Constitution and Declaration of Independance, his should be mantatory reading in any high school government class.
Misty Lynne
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A must read for every single American, particularly if you are a governement official. In this document we find the answers to all our countries ills. If we started to live the advice layed out here, I wonder if our country could not be turned around within one presidential term. I would absolutely love to see a political debate between Ezra Taft Benson and Karl Marx.
Mike Emett
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A must read! Member of the LDS church or not, whether right-wing, left-wing, center or independent, you must pick this up and learn about how the government should be run, what is it's role and what is not, the dangers and truths about communism/socialism and what we should do to preserve America and our freedoms. Profound! Also a short, quick read.
May 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all Americans who hate paying taxes
I read this book on Saturday at our cousin's house and we proceeded to talk about the constitution and our government the whole rest of the day! It's a quick read that shed a different light for me on the direction our government is heading. Having total respect for the author, it's given me lots to think about!
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is a masterpiece of sound reasoning on the proper role of any government, especially ours (the U.S.) under our God-given Constitution. One of my very favorites! I gifted it to several of my neighbors after attending the last Republican caucus (I am not a Republican), and will continue doing that.
Al Beckmann
Apr 21, 2012 is currently reading it
A most excellent paper! Well researched!
Just for an example, a sentence from the Alabama Constitution:
“That the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression.” (Art. 1, Sec. 35)
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is another must read. It's short - less than 20 pages I think. But I have never seen socialism spelled out more clearly than in these pages. We must never succumb to socialism (even though we now live in a socialistic society). Loved this book too.
Doug Cannon
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Next to the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, I believe this is one of the most important political documents that should be read.

Whatever your party or political affiliation, this document contains truths that must be understood.
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Nicole by: Leah

Read it, it will change your life. It clearly defines both proper and improper roles of government along with simple explanations supporting the reasons given. I wish EVERYONE would read it before voting this year.
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The thirteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1985 until his death and was United States Secretary of Agriculture for both of the administrations of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

On October 7, 1943, both Benson and Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) became members of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, filling two vacancies created by the