What Is Government?

Government is the system by which people who live in a nation, state, or country organize and enforce the laws that govern that society. Government is also a system for providing goods and services to its citizens that the society cannot provide for itself, such as police, fire departments, mail delivery, education, health care, housing, and social security. Governments differ widely around the world, from large democracies to totalitarian regimes to various forms of oligarchy and autocracy.

A government is necessary to the existence of civilized society because it provides stability and a structure by which people can obtain the basic necessities of life, such as food, shelter, transportation, and medical care. Governments also have the responsibility of protecting and advancing national interests, maintaining order in foreign countries, and controlling crime.

Whether a government is democratic, authoritarian, or somewhere in between, its primary responsibility is to ensure that the rights of individual citizens are protected. The most common way to achieve this is through the creation of a bill of rights, a constitution, or other written document that defines the freedoms that every person is entitled. These documents define how much power a government can have and limit the powers of its members. They also establish a system of checks and balances to protect against tyranny.

The United States, for example, has a three-branch government, with the executive branch (the President and about 5,000,000 workers), the legislative branch (the Senate and House of Representatives), and the judicial branch (Supreme Court and lower courts). Each branch is responsible for different areas of policy.

All governments have some duties in common, such as setting and enforcing rules for the society, ensuring the safety of its citizens, and promoting economic development. But the ways in which these duties are carried out vary greatly from one society to another, with the most important differences determining how much power a government has and what its ultimate goals are.

The main types of government, as classified by political scientists, are democracy, totalitarian regimes, and the various forms of autocracy. Other classifications include monarchy, aristocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, and communism.

In any government, the most basic function is to protect its citizens and make sure they are able to obtain the necessities of life, including education, healthcare, and safe transportation. In addition, the government must be able to collect money from its citizens in order to carry out these duties. Governments raise money through taxes on income, property, and sales. This money is then used to fund the local, state, and federal government, which, in turn, provides a variety of public services. For example, the United States has a military, a postal service, and a network of highways.