That is the crux of the issue. The standard for what is considered "essential" is in dire need of reevaluation (in my opinion). The current standard is to look at any perceived problem and immediately exhort "The government needs to do something about _______!" If you accept the idea that the function of government is to provide an environment where the citizenry can prosper, not to ensure everyone does prosper then establishing courts, public safety, foreign relations are all proper functions of government. Engaging in the business of selling products and services is not.<quoted text>
...People have differing opinions regarding what should be essential...
I would suggest a new standard. Start with the baseline assumption that the government, any government, should not be providing services that can be /are being delivered efficiently by the private sector.
If there are inefficiencies in the distribution of services by the private sector THEN address that inefficiency. Either by providing incentive for more private service providers or by stepping in an providing that service by subcontract -- but only dealing with the inefficiency. In my opinion, government should not be in the business of commercial competition with the private sector.