What does the phrase, "For the good of the people" mean?
On the surface and at its simplest it should be self evident. The people should benefit from whatever it is we are talking about. But just like the age old argument between the letter of the law and the spirit therein it is not that simple.
So when we parse the phrase and delve into it we find it to be as nuanced as anything else these days.
For example, which people are we speaking of and whose idea of good are we after?
Government is in place to ensure the safety and well being of all the people, since that is for whom they work. In this country you should expect to be among the protected people even if you did not vote for the eventual winner of the job. Imagine the chaos if this were not so.
But the people must allow those in power to do their job once in office even when they don't do it to our liking assuming they are not committing any crimes doing so. They are after all and for the most part only human. But that is not to say we must sit by and silently grit our teeth when we are not pleased.
When we see things going badly we must point them out. And if the wrongs are not righted then we must ask why and not go softly into that goodnight.
In America we have only three legal ways to show our disgust for poor leadership; Peaceful protest; Voting the culprits out of office; or in the extreme impeachment. Those who advocate or suggest a more violent method may be considered passionate but they are simply anarchistic-ally wrong! By their own words they are admitting themselves to be committing tyranny.
For the moment the group most often espousing the words of tyranny is the so-called far right. The fringe of the Republican party that is harboring groups such as the 'Tea Party' movement and the 'Oath Keepers' may be made up of good people but they are surely not thinking things through to their logical ends.
For example many of these people who are decrying Government take over of health care and demanding to be left alone are already enjoying the benefits of government-run Medicare and social security.
But by the same token Government is not always right. And unfortunately their mistakes cost the people dearly.
The elected officials are supposed to be taking care of the masses but instead they are answering to a higher court; higher in the sense of tax brackets.
The immensely powerful lobbies and special interest groups that tell our leaders what to do and when to do it have come to expect Congress to say how high in response to their order to jump. If this were not so then the Gulf of Mexico would not be in the midst of the greatest man made environmental disaster in this nation's history.
For the good of the people (their investors) the oil industry said damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead in their efforts to drill for more profits. And out of each dollar they earned Congress received, for lack of a more pristine term kickbacks. Although not as blatant as a wad of cash stuffed into a Senator's pocket campaign donations to use any way they like given during lavish dinners at exclusive restaurants or on outings in the Caribbean can speak volumes.
So the original phrase in question is now more understandable. It has morphed into a more oligarchic meaning.
'The people' are those with enough cash in hand to influence the definition and distribution of 'the good.'