President Obama challenged "anti-government" types Wednesday to visit a nation with a poorly functioning government in order to appreciate how "useful" a well-run administration is to society.

"I always tell people who are anti-government here in the United States, try going to a country where the government doesn't work. And you'll see that you actually want a good government," the president said during a town hall for Mandela Washington Fellowship winners. "It's a useful thing to have."

The president was speaking broadly about his belief that a robust central government is a necessary precondition to a successful market economy.

"Our big problem here in this country is sometimes we forget how we became so wealthy in the first place. And you start hearing arguments about, 'Oh, we don't want to pay taxes to fund the universities,' or, 'We don't want to pay taxes to maintain our roads properly, because why should I have to invest in society? I made it on my own,'" Obama said.

"And we forget that the reason you had this opportunity to go work at Google or to go work at General Motors or to go work at IBM had to do with a lot of investments that were made in science and research and roads and courts and all the infrastructure that helps preserve the ability of people who want to operative effectively in the marketplace to be able to make it."

Gallup's "mood of the nation" polls have found that more than 60 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with "our system of government and how well it works" in recent years. And according to Pew data from 2015, only one in every five citizens say they can trust the federal government to do what is right at least "most of the time".