The Basics of Government

Government is the system of people and organizations that governs an organized community. A government usually consists of the legislature, executive, and judiciary, and it enforces organizational policies and defines them. It is also a means of collecting and dispersing resources to provide stability, goods, and services for its citizens. Government also provides a structure by which society may communicate with the world at large and share cultural and social experiences.

Governments began to evolve as humans recognized that protecting themselves from outside threats was easier in groups. Often, one person in the group would become leader and claim a special type of power called sovereignty—the right to rule and protect a certain territory or region.

There are many types of governments, although there are some characteristics that distinguish them from others. Modern classifications include democracies, totalitarian regimes, and authoritarian regimes along with a wide range of hybrid systems. In the United States, the Constitution establishes a federal republic where sovereign power is shared between the national and state level authorities.

The main function of most governments is the allocation of funds to pay for a variety of goods and services. This money is raised through a variety of means including taxes, tariffs, and borrowing. The laws that govern these money sources often limit how and when they can be used. On the local level, city councils, county commissioners, and school boards make decisions about how to use the funds to benefit the citizens they serve. On the state level, legislatures pass laws that allocate funds to things such as education, police and fire departments, and road maintenance. On the federal level, Congress imposes taxes and tariffs to raise money and sets spending priorities. Congress may also authorize spending on specific projects, which is known as earmarking.

In modern times, the role of governments has shifted from protecting its citizens from external threats to providing a variety of social programs and benefits. Some of these programs are controversial. For example, President Lyndon Johnson started the Great Society programs in the 1960s to help the poor by providing jobs, payments, and food. Some critics believe these programs distort the individual’s sense of responsibility to take care of himself or herself.

Other examples of government services are delivering mail, providing public education, and maintaining police and fire departments. In addition to these services, government also communicates with other countries through diplomats who attend meetings and attempt to resolve issues and disagreements. These efforts can help avoid war and promote commercial and cultural exchanges. Governments also provide a military force that protects the country from terrorist attacks and other threats that might cause it harm. The leader of a government may have advisors and ministers for various departments. Together they are referred to as the administration. Job opportunities are available at the federal, state, and local levels of government. To find these jobs, one can search online for “government jobs” or “state government jobs.” Search engines will return websites that list open vacancies in different areas.