In The Giver, what are the responsibilities of the Committee of Elders?

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The Committee of Elders has the enormous responsibility of making virtually every significant decision in the community; it issues laws to ensure the citizens' safety and comfort. The Committee of Elders decides the community's birthrate, which is at fifty new children per year, and creates each family unit. The Committee of Elders also decides the citizens' occupations when the community's adolescents turn twelve years old. In addition to choosing each citizens' occupation, the Committee of Elders is also responsible for issuing laws and regulations, as well as punishing citizens who break them. After three transgressions, a citizen is "released" from the community. The Committee of Elders issues many of their regulations via the Speaker and constantly supervises the population. The Committee of Elders is also responsible for altering the environment and regulating the food supply. They also decide when certain infants and elderly citizens should be released for the community's benefit.

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The Committee of Elders is the governing body in the community.  They make the laws, organize the major events and ceremonies, and assign the jobs to the children who turn 12.  The running joke among the citizens is that if you ever want a rule to be changed, the Committee of Elders will not change it, but instead let the idea rot in committee.  Whenever the Elders need extra guidance, they ask the Receiver for his input on an issue.

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