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8 (3 ).

: 2017

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Government and the Economy
Although the market system in the United States relies on private ownership and decentralized decision-making by households and privately owned businesses, the government does perform important economic functions. The government passes and enforces laws that protect the property rights of individuals and businesses. It restricts economic activities that are considered unfair or socially unacceptable. In addition, government programs regulate safety in products and in the workplace, provide national defense, and provide public assistance to some members of society coping with economic hardship. There are some products that must be provided to households and firms by the government because they cannot be produced profitably by private firms. For example, the government funds the construction of interstate highways, and operates vaccination programs to maintain public health. Local governments operate public elementary and secondary schools to ensure that as many children as possible will receive an education, even when their parents are unable to afford private schools. Other kinds of goods and services (such as health care and higher education) are produced and consumed in private markets, but the government attempts to increase the amount of these products available in the economy. For yet other goods and services, the government acts to decrease the amount produced and consumed; these include alcohol, tobacco, and products that create high levels of pollution. At the most basic level, the government makes it possible for markets to function more efficiently by clearly defining and enforcing people‘s property or ownership rights to resources and by providing a stable currency and a central banking system (the Federal Reserve System in the U.S. economy). Even these basic functions require a wide range of government programs and employees. For example, the government maintains offices for recording deeds to property, courts to interpret contracts and resolve disputes over property rights, and police and other law enforcement agencies to prevent or punish theft and fraud. The Treasury Department issues currency and coins and handles the governments revenues and expenditures. And as we have seen, the Federal Reserve System controls the nations supply of money and availability of credit. To perform these basic functions, the government must be able to shift resources from private to public uses. It does this mainly through taxes, but also with user fees for some services (such as admission fees to national parks), and by borrowing money when it issues government bonds.

1. What does American economy rely on?
2. What products are too costly or unprofitable for private business and therefore are provided by the government?
3. What goods and services are produced by the private sector, but their production is regulated by the government?
4. How can the government make market more efficient?
5. How does the government move resources from private to public application?

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