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Government: Government is the act or process of leading by legitimate authority. To govern implies ruling, but in a democracy, ideally, this rule should only come through the will of the people. It is also a broad term that is used to refer to all of the individuals and agencies that are involved with administering or managing a nation, organization, business or institution as one entity (i.e. “the” government). The act of governing requires problem solving, prioritizing, decision making and a commitment to maintaining the legitimacy of rule in the eyes of those being led. So, are you a leader or a follower? Do you thrive when you are accountable for governing or when unburdened by this responsibility? Do you believe that those who govern deserve perks that ordinary citizens are denied? Is it okay and forgivable when governments lie? What is the single most important thing that government must do to keep your support? Are you careful to scrutinize the motivations of politicians? How can you tell whether they are acting in the interest of the people at all, or by their will? Where is that will perverted in today’s government? How might our government be reformed to become again by the people and for the people? How would we be able to tell when a successful reformation has taken place? Do you hold your government (corporations) accountable for their discrepancies?

According to the Los Angeles Times, the federal spending bill that recently passed Congress has, with little notice by the general public, effectively legalized medical marijuana at the federal level. As you might recall, medical marijuana dispensaries, though legalized by various state laws, have been subject to raids by federal drug agents because marijuana is still classified by the federal government as a dangerous schedule 1 drug. Although, 32 states and the District of Columbia have legalized pot or its ingredients to treat ill patients, the federal government has staunchly stood their ground under the belief that marijuana is correctly grouped with other schedule 1 drugs like LSD, peyote and heroine.

Now, with Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska voting to completely legalize marijuana for recreational users, it is likely that the feds are beginning to see and feel a change in the public perception of the war on drugs. After four-plus decades of this war and billions of dollars spent to curtail drug production, distribution and consumption around the world, it is arguable whether any headway has been made. What is not arguable, however, is that locking up low level, non-violent offenders by the thousands will not make the problem go away, nor will throwing billions of dollars at it make a positive change.

Another problem for governments that will not go away is cyberwarfare committed by foreign governments. The recent hacking of Sony Pictures, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), is increasingly being attributed to the North Korean government and their dislike of the comedy-farce, “The Interview,” which is about two journalist who are recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un. The WSJ also reports that, “during the attack, internal data was leaked to embarrass executives, and then threats of violence were made against any theaters that showed the film.” This was followed by Sony pictures shelving the movie rather than releasing it on December 25, as was planned. A primary clue, the fact that the cyberattack software used in the Sony hack attempted to connect to a North Korean Internet address, has convinced some U.S. government officials that North Korea is, indeed, the government to blame.

The WSJ reports that the U.S. government’s decision concerning a response to the hacking is difficult “because such a breach is not the type of hacking scenario contemplated in the government’s many drills and contingency-planning for cyberattacks from foreign countries.” Sony, as an entertainment company, is not a part of the critical infrastructure (banking systems, communications, and the power grid) so little thought has gone into how to respond if a nation state cyberattacks a national or international corporation. What is the appropriate government response to corporate cyberattacks? Would a stern warning that they went too far suffice? Certainly, economic sanctions have not worked to make North Korea comply in the past, so what can be done?

Finally, President Obama announced this week that the U.S. has re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba. According to USA Today, “the countries are preparing to open embassies in each other’s capitals and increase the flow of people and capital between them.” President Obama, while speaking about the embargo and other sanctions that have been placed on Cuba for fifty years, declared, “I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.” He went on to say that we have “cut loose the shackles of the past so as to reach for a better future for the Cuban people, for the American people, for our entire hemisphere and for the world.” Whether or not this push to normalize relations with Cuba comes to fruition, the ability to create peace where there is conflict and foster understanding in times of fear should be seen as a primary duty of government.