11. Government and Society
What governments can do
Governments provide public services like healthcare and education. They support people who are living in poverty or unable to work. Governments raise money by taxing working people. They can spend money on resources and campaigns. They can introduce new laws. They can impose taxes. They can raise people’s awareness of issues (e.g climate change/healthy eating). They can influence people’s habits and opinions. They can create jobs. They can regulate the activities of companies such as banks. They can provide resources for schools. They are also responsible for the security and well-being of their citizens. They control armed forces and police forces.
Governments pay the salaries of public sector workers like police officers and teachers. The necessary money is raised by taxing people’s income. Free education and healthcare may be provided by the state. Some governments control public transport systems and even TV channels. In other countries, these services are provided by private companies. Some people believe that competition between private companies is good. It helps to improve quality while bringing prices down. Other people think that essential services should be free. Governments should pay for them.
Governments can censor what public sees or reads in the media. To a certain extent censorship is necessary. We should use censorship to protect children from violent images. Some computer games involve killing people or committing crimes. The Internet also needs to be controlled. Many websites show pornography and violence There should be age limits for websites and computers games. Parents need to take responsibility for checking what their children watch. It is impossible for governments to control everything we see.
Video cameras in public places
The use of CCTV is becoming widespread. Video cameras have been installed in many public places. They are supposed to protect us and deter criminals. Many people think that this surveillance violates our privacy. The authorities could build databases with our pictures and identities. We should not be treated like criminals.
Smart cards: Positives
Governments will probably introduce a digital identification card system. Smart cards will have benefits and drawbacks. They could help to reduce crime. They could hold personal information, such as DNA. Digital bank cards could contain fingerprint information. It would be very difficult for criminals to use a stolen card. It would be easier for police to identify people and catch criminals.
Smart cards: Negatives
Many people are worried about losing their privacy. Governments could store all our personal and medical information. This information could be used by insurance companies. Employers could check our health records.
People with Disabilities
People with disabilities should be treated the same as everybody else. They should have the same rights as other people. They should have access to the same jobs as other citizens. Discriminations against disabled people is illegal in many countries. Ramps and lifts for wheelchairs should be installed in public buildings. Support teacher can be employed to help children with learning difficulties.
12. Guns and Weapons
Why guns should be legal:
In some countries, people are allowed to own firearms. Individuals have the right to protect themselves. People can use guns in self defense. This deters criminals.
Why gun ownership should be illegal:
There is a risk of accidents with guns. The number of violent crimes increases when guns are available. Criminals may be armed. The police then need to use guns. Suicide rates have been shown to rise when guns are available. Guns create violent societies with high murder rates.
Why polices should use guns
Many criminals use weapons. The threat of a gun can deter criminals. Police officers can forces a criminal to surrender. It is easier to arrest someone and avoid physical violence. The police may shoot violent criminals in self defence. They can protect the public. They can shoot an escaping criminal who poses a serious danger to the public.
Why police should not carry guns
There is a risk of accidents and mistakes. The police might shoot an unarmed criminal or an innocent person. Accidents can happen in public places. There are several alternatives to guns (e.g tear gas, sprays and electric shock weapons). Only special police units should use guns.
Arm Trade: Positives
The export of arms, or weapons, is an extremely controversial issue. Governments of rich, industrialized countries sell arms to each other. This industry creates jobs and wealth. The trade of weapons may improve relationships between governments.
Arms Trade: Negatives
Weapons may be used in conflicts and wars. The supply of arms could be responsible for deaths. Governments are promoting war in order to make a profit. Rich countries can influence the politics of other nations.
Nuclear weapons are capable of destroying whole cities. A nuclear war between two countries would destroy both countries. Nuclear weapons are used as a deterrent. They prevent wars from starting.
Nuclear weapons: Opinion
Nuclear weapons should be prohibited. Governments should limit the production of nuclear weapons. There is a danger of nuclear weapons being obtained by terrorists. Nuclear weapons cannot be used against terrorist organizations.
Armed Forces: Positives
Armed forces provide security and protection. They deter military attack by another country. They can also be sued to maintain peace within countries. They can be sued to give the police extra support. Soldiers are also used to help in emergency situations, such as after a natural disaster.
Armed forces: negatives
Armies require a lot of funding from governments. Too much money is spent on weapons and military technology. This money could be spent on schools, hospitals and other public services.
The human body requires a balanced diet. An unhealthy diet can cause various health problems. Obesity, diabetes and heart disease are on the increase. Many people nowadays rely on fast food or pre-prepared meals. These foods often contain too much fat, salt and sugar. They are cheap to buy and very easy to prepare. Many young people have grown up on a diet of convenience foods. Populations in developed countries are increasingly overweight.
Regular exercise is essential in maintaining a healthy body. Exercise burns calories and helps to build healthy bones and muscles. Doctors advise exercising at least three times a week for 20 minutes. Most people nowadays lead a sedentary lifestyle. We tend to walk less and do desk jobs. Most adults relax by watching television. Children play video games rather than doing outdoor sports. In the past, people were more active in their jobs and at home.
Governments have a significant role to play in reducing obesity. More and more people, including young children are seriously overweight. They are at risk of heart disease and diabetes. This situation will increase the burden on hospitals and taxpayers. Hospitals rely on the government for money and resources. Governments should promote a healthy diet and regular exercise. There should be more time for sports on school timetables. Unhealthy junk food should be banned from school menus. People need information about what foods contain. Food packaging must show the food’s nutritional content. The British Government recommends eating five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
State Health system: advantages
Good healthcare should be available to everyone for free. State healthcare is paid by the government using money from taxes. Everyone has access to the same quality of care and treatment. Private healthcare is unfair because only wealthy people can afford it. The National Health Service in the UK provides free healthcare for every resident.
Private Healthcare: advantages
State hospitals are often very large and difficult to run. Private hospitals have shorter waiting lists for operations and appointments. Patients can benefit from faster treatment. Many people prefer to pay for more a personal service. Patients have their own room and more comfortable facilities.
Alternative medicine: Positives
People are increasingly using alternative medicines to treat illnesses. For example, acupuncture can be used to treat backache. Herbal medicines can be used to treat allergies or viruses. Many patients report positive experiences with these treatments. Some traditional cures have been used for hundreds of years.
Alternative medicine: Negatives
Many alternative medicines have not been tested scientifically. They may have no beneficial effect at all. They may cause unknown side effects. People should trust the opinions of qualified doctors. An illness could get worse without treatment from a doctor.
Modern lifestyles are increasingly stressful. People work long hours with strict deadlines. Our busy lifestyles mean we have less time to relax. Unemployment is a major cause of stress. Children may be affected by their parents’ relationship problems. Tests and exams can also cause stress.
How to reduce stress
Stress can be reduced by taking regular exercise and eating a healthy diet. It is also important to get sufficient sleep and make leisure time a priority. People should work less overtime and take regular holidays. Schools have started to employ psychologists. They can offer emotional support to students. They can help students to cope with exam stress.
14. Housing and Architecture
In some countries, the government provides state or council housing. This helps people who cannot afford to buy their own house. It can be argued that state housing creates dependence on the government. People should be rely on the government to look after them. People have no incentive to earn money and buy their own home. Council properties are often made with cheap, poor-quality materials.
Historic buildings are part of a country’s heritage. They should be protected. Old buildings are often considered to be works or art. They give character to cities and attract tourists. They show us how people lived in the past. We identify countries by architectural symbols like the pyramids in Egypt. Governments should spend money on looking after historic buildings. They need regular repairs and maintenance. New buildings should be designed to complement them.
Modern buildings should be designed to be environmentally friendly. They should use less energy and produce less waste. Modern insulation can make houses more energy-efficient. Solar and wind power can be used to generate electricity. Rainwater and waste water can be recycled and used to flush toilets. Modern glass buildings take advantage if natural light.
English as an international language
English is widely used around the world. It is becoming a global second language. It is the dominant language of technology, science and international business. International business meetings are regularly held in English The most important textbooks and journals are published in English. The ability to speak English is a necessary skill in the modern world.
Negative of English as an International Language
If one language is dominant, other languages may disappear. The dominant language brings its own culture. American culture has become popular around the world.
Other cultures may be damaged. As an alternative to English, a new global language could be invented. It would have no nationality or culture attached to it. This could help to promote international peace and understanding. Esperanto is an example of a language that was invented with this aim.