What Is Government?


The Government of a nation, state or city is a system of rules, people and institutions that creates, enforces and administers laws, defends against enemies, keeps order within the country and provides services for its citizens. These services can include public education, roads, police and fire protection, health care and welfare programs. The people of the country pay money called taxes to the government in exchange for these services. Governments have existed for thousands of years, and ideas about what they should do and how they should be structured continue to evolve.

Every country, state or city has its own unique form of government that reflects the environment, history and political ideals of its people. A country may choose to govern itself as a democracy, republic, socialism or a monarchy. There are many different types of governments, and each has its own pros and cons.

Most people believe that the primary role of a government is to provide security for its citizens. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including providing jobs and ensuring food and water. Governments also can provide programs that aid the poor, including medical insurance, welfare, and food stamps. While this is often seen as a good thing, some believe that these programs discourage personal responsibility and make the people dependent on the government.

Another important task of the government is to maintain a balance between liberty and security. This can be accomplished by creating a system of checks and balances, wherein the executive and legislative branches of the government share power and check the actions of each other. The founders of the United States Constitution created this balance by giving Congress significant legislative power (the power to make laws), but also by limiting the powers of the Executive Branch and by restrainting the power of the Supreme Court.

The legislative branch of the federal government levies taxes and tariffs to raise funds for the federal budget. These funds are then used to pay for various services, such as public education, road construction and maintenance, and law enforcement. Congress can also direct the spending of funds for specific items, which is known as earmarking.

In addition, the legislative branch of the federal government enacts regulations that have the force of law and oversees the operation of various agencies, such as the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Aviation Administration. The president has the right to veto legislation passed by Congress, and Congress can override the president’s veto with a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress.

While it is not entirely clear why governments exist, one possibility is that they prevent conflicts among people by imposing a set of agreed-upon rules. However, this theory is controversial, and it is likely that a number of factors, including the need for safety and security, economic organization, intellectual and philosophical influences and geographical or historical circumstance, determine why and how a government exists.