Government is a collection of people that work together to accomplish certain goals and provide benefits that citizens need. It can be found in every country and is an essential part of any society. Governments create rules for citizens and protect them from outside threats. They also offer services like education, health care and transportation. This is why governments are one of the largest employers worldwide.
Governments are formed when a group of people are elected to make laws that affect everyone in their region or country. In the United States, we have a representative democracy where a few people out of everyone vote for members of Congress to represent them and set policy for the nation. Other countries have different forms of government, but most include a legislative branch, an executive branch and a judicial branch.
The main responsibility of a government is to protect citizens from external threats and to ensure that the rights of all are protected. Governments do this by providing things like police and fire departments, roads, postal service, and food and water for the poor. Another important job of a government is to regulate public access to common goods like wildlife and natural resources. Governments must protect these things so that a few people cannot take too much of them and leave others with nothing.
In addition to protecting their people, governments also provide a variety of social programs that help citizens. These can include welfare, unemployment insurance and national medical coverage. While some people think that government-run programs are expensive and undermine the individual’s sense of responsibility for his or her own well being, other people find them necessary to alleviate extreme poverty.
At the local level, government provides jobs in schools and hospitals, roads and bridges, parks and waterways. Governments at the state and national levels also spend money on research and development, military expenditures, and national security.
While the purpose of a government changes from place to place, there are a few fundamental principles that all governments should share. These include:
Majority rule with minority rights: Decisions are made based on what the majority wants while respecting the opinions of minorities. Accountability: Elected and appointed officials are held responsible for their actions. Limited government and a Bill of Rights: The power of the government is limited and its citizens’ rights are guaranteed. Checks and balances: The branches of government are structured to be in competition with each other so that if a single branch gets too powerful, the others can counteract its excesses.
This system of separate branches of government is known as the separation of powers and originated with James Madison, one of the founding fathers of the United States. He wrote that because it was impossible to create politicians who would be angels and never seek too much power, the best way to keep them in check was to structure the government in a way that created an environment of competing branches.