Government is a system that people use to set rules and policies for their societies, protect themselves from outside interference, and provide services to their citizens. They do this through laws, taxes, and the enforcement of those laws. Governments can be at the local, state, or national level. They can be based on an absolute monarchy or on a democracy. The exact functions that a government performs can change through time, but they are always necessary for civilized societies.
One of the most important jobs that governments have is protecting citizens from outside attack. They also make sure that everyone has access to goods and services they can’t easily get from the market, such as clean drinking water. Governments are also responsible for protecting “public goods” – things that everybody can benefit from but that are in limited supply, such as the fish in the sea or the land on which houses are built.
Another vital function of government is regulating the flow of money. They take in money from businesses and individuals through taxes and fees, and they give it back to them when needed, such as for unemployment benefits or Social Security. This is known as redistribution of income. Governments also spend money on things like public defense, education, and national parks. They create budgets every legislation period and decide how much they need to spend.
Many governments are based on a democracy, where people elect representatives to make decisions for them. This means that citizens can voice their opinions and needs to the government and ask for help when they need it. This makes them different from an oligarchy, which is a system of rule by a small group of powerful individuals.
While the role of government has changed over the years, they are still responsible for making laws and ensuring that they are enforced. They are also responsible for providing services that society as a whole requires, such as education and healthcare. However, they are slowly starting to cede some of their responsibilities to other organizations. For example, private companies now offer many of the same services that government agencies used to provide.