GENERAL ACTIVITIES OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
The question of what governments do, that is to say, the question of the functions of government, may be considered from two related, but somewhat different, points of view. On the one hand, governments do such things as make law, administer finance, and undertake concomitant activities like carrying out law, determining appointments and removals, conducting foreign relations, and so on. In the second place, the question of the functions of government may in general be conceived of in terms of the subject with which legislation, administration, and the like are concerned. Examples of functions in this sense are things like public health, education, public works, and so on. Whether between these two kinds of functions any absolute distinction can be made or any fixed relationship can be determined is doubtful. Nevertheless, a few broad considerations seem to be roughly applicable.
The distinction between the senses in which the idea of governmental functions presents itself is, in the first place, a distinction based in some measure on the difference between the structure of government conceived of as a unity and the same structure viewed in terms of its several component parts. On the whole, it is perhaps with the several branches of government, rather than with government as a whole, that functions in the first sense, that is to say, activities like legislation and like appointment and removal, are more naturally associated. The legislature makes laws, the executive makes appointments and removals, and so on. On the other hand, the proposition that education is a function of government involves, in general, the idea of an undertaking on the part of government as a whole, as contrasted with the activities of non-governmental agencies. Nevertheless, this way of looking at the matter cannot be pushed too far. A thing like law-making can be, and is,