Government is the group of adults that decides the rules people must live by. It then makes sure those rules are followed and judges any disagreements between people about those rules. Governments also provide services that individuals cannot provide for themselves. These include military defense, fire and police departments, roads, education, social services and environmental protection. The specifics of these vary by country and type of governmental system.
Historically, governments evolved as groups of people recognized the need for someone to protect them from each other and from the worst vicissitudes of life. This recognition led to the development of institutions called “governments.” These monopolize the use of force on their territory and grant themselves immunity from outside interference. In modern times, there are many types of government, including democratic, parliamentary, presidential, and unitary.
Some governments are more powerful than others, but all of them have the same basic function. Governments monopolize the legal use of force, and they punish those who break the laws. Governments also levy taxes and make laws about what you can and cannot do.
One of the most important functions of any government is providing essential services that individuals cannot provide for themselves. These services include military defense, fire and police departments, schools, roads, and public utilities. In the United States, federal, state and local governments generate revenue by charging fees and collecting taxes. They also borrow money to fund programs and services.
The responsibilities of governments also extend to providing social services and benefits for citizens, but this is an area of great controversy in the United States. Many Americans oppose the notion that the government should be responsible for providing jobs, food and welfare benefits. Others support the New Deal and Great Society programs aimed at reducing poverty in America.
Governments also regulate the use of common goods like natural resources, so that people cannot take too freely from these without affecting other citizens. Governments can also regulate public access to things like public schools, post offices and national parks.
Governments must be accountable to their citizens, and they usually have elected representatives who are held accountable by voters. These elected officials may be members of a political party or independent. They are tasked with making decisions that benefit the majority of their constituents while respecting the opinions of minorities. They are also tasked with limiting the power of the government and guaranteeing individual rights.