What Does Government Do?

Government is the system of people and laws that define and control a nation, state or other political unit. Government is responsible for a wide range of duties including the economy, foreign affairs, defense, and public services. Regardless of the type of government, it all serves one purpose: to create and enforce rules that protect citizens and ensure that everyone gets what they need in life.

The way governments operate can vary greatly, depending on the culture and history of the place in which it operates. There are many different kinds of governments, from a monarchy to an oligarchy or dictatorship. Some governments, such as the United States, are constitutional democracies while others have a different kind of structure, called a republic or a federalist system. Throughout history, new ideas and important events have led to the formation of different types of governments.

Most modern governments follow the model proposed by Montesquieu, which divides the power of a country into three equal branches: legislative, executive and judicial. This is designed to prevent one branch of the government from becoming too powerful and able to control all aspects of the country. Each branch also has the ability to check the powers of the other two branches, which is known as a system of checks and balances.

Besides protecting its citizens, government provides other valuable goods and services. These include military protection, education, public transportation, mail service, and police and fire departments. Governments at the local, state and national level also levy taxes on people and businesses in order to raise money to pay for these goods and services. These taxes are usually in the form of a flat tax, a percentage of income or sales, or a tariff. Governments at all levels draft budgets to determine how funds will be spent.

Another responsibility of governments is to regulate access to natural resources like water, wildlife, and public lands. Because these resources are in limited supply, it is important that they are not used up too quickly. Governments set limits on the number of people that can use these resources so that there is enough to go around.

At the local level, governments provide social programs for their citizens that include food, housing, and health care. These are controversial because they can take away the need for individuals to be self-sufficient. At the federal level, government also spends money on social programs and the military.

Some people believe that the government should spend even more money on programs such as healthcare and welfare. They argue that these are necessary to help the less fortunate, and they should be supported with a larger tax base. Others argue that these are not needed because they can destroy the work ethic and encourage dependency. Regardless of what the government does, it is important that citizens have the right to make their voices heard in elections and in other ways that they feel are best for their society.