What Does a Government Do?

Government, or gv, is the system by which a society makes its own rules and provides goods and services to its citizens. The term also refers to the body that carries out political authority and control, whether on a local, regional, or national level. Different governments use different methods to achieve their goals, but all have a central body that makes decisions and defines the organization’s governing principles.

The most basic job of any government is to make laws. This includes deciding what behaviors are acceptable and not acceptable, regulating businesses, ensuring everyone has access to education, and protecting people from the dangers of nature. Governments also protect the rights of their citizens. For example, in many western democracies, citizens can speak freely and have their opinions heard. They can vote in elections and are not subject to random changes in their wages.

Another important job of a government is to regulate public access to common goods like fish in the sea or clean drinking water. These are resources that everybody can benefit from, but they are in limited supply, so the government has to protect them so a few people do not take all of them and leave others with nothing. Governments provide these and other valuable goods and services, such as police protection and mail delivery. They also give jobs to citizens, allowing them to earn money. Governments at the local, state, and federal levels all raise money by imposing taxes on income and property. They then spend the money on things that benefit the citizens they represent. Local governments, for example, allocate funds to schools, fire departments, and maintenance of public parks. State and federal governments spend their money on things like highway construction, defense spending, social security, and prisons.

While some people may argue that government should focus only on these essential duties, the vast majority of Americans agree that it has other responsibilities. For example, about seven-in-ten lower-income adults say they believe the government should provide all Americans with an adequate standard of living. A similar share of middle- and upper-income adults hold this view.

In addition to fostering economic prosperity, governments around the world work hard to ensure that their citizens live safe and healthy lives. They protect people from natural disasters, such as floods and hurricanes, and help them with medical care and food, housing, and transportation. They also protect the rights of their citizens, including freedom of speech and the press. They maintain a military to keep peace in the country and the world, and they provide education and health care. Some governments are also adopting a new strategy of sharing information about their operations with citizens, known as open data. In this way, they are demonstrating a commitment to transparency and trust in their relations with their constituents. This is a very positive development for the future of democracy and civil society.