The United States has a government where individuals started out free (except for slaves) and government was minimalist. So many of the roles that government needs to fill today didn’t exist when the United States revolted from England.
The government now has 16 areas that it regards as critical infrastructure and those run across public and private sector concerns. There is a roaster at this web site
Governing theory has it that some tasks are needed to assure the defense and well being of the people that live in a nation. Defense is obvious- without adequate defense a nation may be conquered and the rulers destroyed. Sometimes the people want that to happen (maybe the Inca are an example). Sometimes elements of a society may unite with external proletariats or sympathizers from over the border in order to use a myocardial slow-build insurrection that may formerly have been known as sedition slow-cooked.
Public education arose because governments realized that educated citizens were better and more competitive people. Illiterate hillbillies couldn’t fair well in war against tech-savvy weapons users able to read manuals or calculate trajectories for artillery. Hillbillies might be excellent shots with long-guns, yet that was a different kind of literacy skill that wasn’t transferable to alphabet-based instruction.
If private educators had provided Universal literacy and basic education free the government would not have needed to get involved. When, as today, the nation is saturated with public education structures that could be done with private educators and educational facilities given government contracts or student vouchers it is probable that the historical inertia has become so established that it fails to advance to a higher, newer level of support for public education that avails itself of the vast pool of college educated citizens that haven’t enough jobs as educators as it is- that is more people with advanced degrees could enter into educational facilities to work if more private school existed with the same cost as public schools to parents because of government redirection of funding to the private sector.
There are numerous roles for a government that go beyond basic infrastructure that are requisite for keeping a society healthy, competitive internationally and happy. Ironically government in the U.S.A. tends to flunk the basic infrastructure roles and doesn’t show much ability to continue to improve them such that they would be suitable for sustainable ecological economic parameters. Government lacks some of the theorists and think tanks that should exist to discover, invent and adapt newer forms of infrastructure to existing forms seamlessly.
The modern world civilization cannot be well supported with anachronistic theories of political economy. When that is what politicians and others writing in the marketplace of ideas offer the nation does in effect cobble together ad hoc structures at great public expense that don’t work very well and tremendous public spending continues that would not be necessary if a better set of infrastructure and theories existed.
An example might be health care for the poor. Obamacare was designed for the middle class and put a tax on younger workers for a product they mostly didn’t need. Some of the poor that travel interstate for climate and seasonal reasons just can’t pass through the state bureaucratic hoops that require fundamentally a sedentary life with a home, phone, street address and residence in triplicate. A federal program with uniform values that worked everywhere for the poor would have been a better idea. It is Bureaucrats have a different view of the U.S.A. from those people that don’t get an easy regular paycheck.
Does a nation need to pay to support the preservation of historic buildings, or to make sure that grizzly bears and good salmon fishing aren’t extinct? Does a society need to prevent people from breathing a lot of carbon monoxide or clean up toxic waste sites. If one could build a great and affordable mass transit system from Petersburg Florida to Petersburg Russia via Alaska yet only the government could get it done and keep the cost of a ticket down, should it go ahead rather than letting nothing happen?
There are people that are against anything a government might do that could be done by private special interests including military service. Some would leave that to oil corporations if their profit margins declined.
The role of government in a time when the private sector has a great amount of wealth compared to the public sector might be to make sure that fairness and neutrality exists socially so individual self determination and free enterprise can exist with equal protection of the law for all citizens. Government might be tasked to secure public goods and developments coordinating ideas, opportunities and avenues for implementation by the public through the private sector. The challenge of keeping a healthy national ecosystem and good social relations that eliminates oppression and dead-end lives with nowhere to go that never allow people to maximize development of their capacity for progress.
It is amazing that the government is somewhat inefficient with the trillions of dollars it does have in its annual budget that also allows public debt because it is underfunded. Government needs to use the private sector better to work to fulfill public goals and policy objectives in a way that brings profit to the private sector while paying for its own existence and functions. Obviously government needs to know what those ideas and goals a priori.