The government is the system of people, laws and officials that define and control a country. Governments make rules for what goes on in the public world and provide many services that benefit citizens. There are different kinds of governments, but all are designed to accomplish certain tasks. Some of these tasks include providing security and economic prosperity. Governments also help protect the environment and maintain stable borders.
Almost every place on Earth has one kind of government or another. The exceptions are places where people follow traditions instead of government rules, small border disputed areas and Antarctica. Most places have a local village, town or city government and then a state or national government that claims’sovereign control’ over the area. These governments have many jobs that help keep society running smoothly and fair. They create rules that determine how businesses can operate, for example by regulating the amount of toxic gases that can be released from factories or the purity of food sold. Governments also set safety standards for products such as cars and toys. Governments are responsible for enforcing these laws, which helps to maintain order and prevent criminal activity.
Another job of the government is to protect ‘common goods’ such as water, fish in the sea and air. These are goods that everyone can use but they are in limited supply, so they must be protected to ensure that a few people do not take everything that is available and leave others with nothing. The government also protects public services such as schools, fire and police departments and mail service. Governments collect taxes from people to fund these services and also draft budgets that decide how the money will be spent.
Most countries have some form of democracy, in which people choose a group of people to govern them by voting or deliberation. This could be a direct democracy where citizens directly select members of a participatory governing body or an indirect democracy where the citizenry elects representatives or delegates to serve in a non-participatory governing body. Governments can be based on a variety of ideological ideals. Some ideologies, such as egalitarianism and the destruction of socioeconomic inequalities, may result in a government that taps people’s phones and restricts what newspapers can publish while other ideals, such as national security and liberty, will lead to restrictions on how far law enforcement agencies can interfere with the private lives of citizens.
Governments have an enormous amount of power, and they are not always easy to evaluate objectively. Consequently, a person’s opinions about their government can be quite polarized. Many of the issues that divide people over their government revolve around the way in which they believe it should be structured and how powerful the people who run it are. A common opinion is that the best type of government is one that limits its power while guaranteeing citizens’ rights. This is commonly known as the concept of checks and balances.