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CIVIL GOVERNMENT IN CALIFORNIA

CHAPTER I

THE SCOPE OF GOVERNMENT

1. Different Views as to the Scope of Government. — Government exists in order that public wants may be satisfied, that public interests may be advanced, and that rules for regulating the conduct of individuals in their dealings with one another may be established and enforced. There is much difference of opinion as to the extent to which these functions should be pursued.

The individualist believes that governmental activity should be restricted to the satisfaction of the most obvious public wants, such as the preservation of order, the suppression of crime, and the protection of guaranteed constitutional rights; that in the advancement of public interests government should concern itself only with those lines of action which interfere least with private enterprise, such as the maintenance of roads, the improvement of rivers and harbors, and the encouragement of agriculture, industry, and commerce; and that in regulating the conduct of individuals toward one another, government should interfere as little as possible with personal freedom, confining its scope to such matters as the settlement of disputes, the enforcement of contract rights, and the establishment general rules for the transaction of business. This belief is known historically as the doctrine of laissez faire.

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