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Submitted by Andrea Planter-Otter, MD, MPH on

Essentially, government is an insurance fund with an army.

This paraphrases Paul Krugman, refering to the US federal budget. It's less valid in countries where, unlike in the US, public goods like primary education, public transport, disease control and prevention, sanitation and police are provided mainly through the central government budget, but it still aligns with your public goods and redistribution categories. Redistribution is often like insurance that provides compensation for and recovery from adverse shocks, some lasting a long time.