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Democracy and Power 101: Government is Power

The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. —James Madison, Speech in the Virginia State Convention of 1829-1830

Government within its jurisdiction has a monopoly on power. Government has the power to tax and enforce the collection of taxes, the power to regulate, the power to incarcerate and even take the life of a person.

Every act of government has an element of power, which is executed by force or coercion. Every government rule and regulation involves compliance with the power of government. For example, public education is overwhelmingly accepted as a public good. However, all aspects of public education are enforced by the power of government: taxation, compulsory attendance, jurisdiction, and curriculum.