How Government Negligence Harms Citizens: What Can You Do?

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By Ikram Ullah

There are few things as depressing as living in a society where the government doesn’t have your back. One would think that such governments only exist in third-world or developing countries, but you would be surprised.

Americans have also tasted the bitter fruit of government negligence through several scandals and disasters over the years. 

From the mismanagement during the Katrina hurricane to the most recent Maui fire, which killed ninety-seven, it feels like nothing has changed. Government negligence is often characterized by inaction and a gross failure to prevent or address crisis situations. 

When such negligence occurs, it has the potential to cause tremendous suffering for citizens. Let us explore further.

Why Does Government Negligence Happen?

One significant factor that contributes to government negligence is bureaucratic inefficiency. The complex and convoluted nature of government structures hinders swift decision-making.

Moreover, government agencies use hierarchical structures that need approval from multiple levels of management. During crisis moments, this can impede quick decision-making and can have life-or-death consequences for people.

Similarly, miscommunication is also a common factor. Often, entire departments work in isolation and are rarely updated on information they should have. Inquire who is responsible, and there is a collective shrug. No one takes responsibility.

In such a context, the lack of accountability acts like yeast to dough. When there are no clear consequences for negligence and mismanagement, a blasé attitude becomes the norm. 

To make matters worse, politicians tend to enjoy legal protections that shield them from liability. This can make it challenging for affected citizens to seek justice and recourse. Americans have witnessed this happen several times. 

It happened during the financial crisis of 2008, it happened during Watergate, and it keeps happening more than we would like. There’s always a scapegoat or a third party that takes the fall, letting those truly responsible go scot-free. 

The Human Toll of Government Negligence

Government negligence wouldn’t be so depressing if it didn’t have the potential to wreak havoc. Loss of life is one of the most heartbreaking consequences that it leads to. 

In crisis situations, individuals who should have been protected by the government are left to fend for themselves.

Just look at the Camp Lejeune water contamination scandal. For decades, toxic chemicals leaked into the water supply used by Marines, staff, and their families. TorHoerman Law notes how government negligence resulted in cancer and long-term health issues for those exposed. 

The surrounding mismanagement was so bad that even today, deciding the payout for Camp Lejeune victims is still a messy process. Is anyone surprised by this? Most people have simply grown tired and weary of government incompetence. 

Actionable Steps the Average Person Can Take

Despite how hopeless the situation might look, there are steps that can be taken. Citizens of a country, when informed and engaged, have the power to hold the government accountable. It is indeed possible to demand transparency and actively work towards preventing incompetence and negligence. Let’s explore how. 

Increase Your Awareness

Awareness serves as the bedrock for understanding what government mismanagement entails. It equips you with the ability to identify the subtle signs of government negligence. This can include patterns of inaction, bureaucratic inefficiencies, and a lack of responsiveness in government actions or non-actions.

When you actively seek information about government decisions and public policies, you are more likely to find red flags. Armed with that knowledge, you can proceed to the next step. 

Join Advocacy Groups

You may be surprised at how much change advocacy groups have managed to create in society. The strength of advocacy groups lies in their numbers. They aggregate the efforts of individual citizens, combining their voices and resources to achieve important objectives. 

While your singular voice may be easily drowned out, advocacy groups can help ensure that your concerns are amplified and heard.

More importantly, they engage in lobbying efforts to influence government policies. This often involves direct communication with elected officials and sometimes confronting them with the information they need to make the right decisions.  

These groups often consist of experts in their respective fields, which ensures your concerns are taken more seriously. 

Vote Out Corrupt Politicians

People can get so caught up in the ‘us vs. them’ mindset that they forget the true purpose of voting. You don’t vote because you hate the other side. You vote because you want to elect the best people to lead the country. 

Politicians know that as long as they can keep people polarized, it is easy to survive accusations of corruption and mismanagement. More people need to recognize this deflection and ensure that representatives earn their titles by proving themselves worthy of a vote. 


The consequences of government negligence, inaction, and mismanagement are heartbreaking. As we’ve seen in several tragic incidents throughout American history, the price is steep.

Thankfully, there are steps that we can and should be taking. If there is evidence of negligence and corruption, the public needs to take action. Unlike those living in dictatorships, the American people actually have the ability to elect better representatives. Sadly, the advantages of living in a free country are often overlooked and underutilized by many. 

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