Government is the means by which a society organizes itself and allocates authority to accomplish collective goals and provide benefits that the society as a whole needs. Governments are responsible for making laws and ensuring that they are followed, as well as providing services such as education, healthcare and security. Governments can take many forms, including monarchy, aristocracy, democracy and republic. Each country and state has its own rules regarding the formation, powers and roles of government.
The role of government has evolved through the years as societies have changed, but one thing that has remained constant is that governments need to protect private property and provide services for their citizens. Governments also have an important role to play in protecting certain goods that are not produced by the market, but that are necessary for a society to function. These are called public goods, or “non-excludable and non-rivaling” goods, like fish in the sea and clean drinking water. Governments must make sure that a few people do not overuse these goods and leave others with no access to them.
Private companies can create some of these goods, but they cannot produce all of them in enough quantity and at a low enough cost to meet the need of all the people. This is why the government is needed to create these goods, along with the more easily created ones such as a stable currency system, roads and education. The government is able to do this because it can tax citizens and draw upon the resources of the entire nation, as well as compel citizen compliance through its military might.
Governments can become dangerous if they are given too much power, so our founders created a system of checks and balances that limits the power of any one branch. They envisioned that each branch of the government would be held in check by the branches above it, but also by the citizens of the United States. They envisioned the national level as being the top rung of the ladder, with the state and local levels being the next two rungs below. They envisioned that each of these three levels would have the power to pass laws that were not in conflict with those passed by the level above it, but could be overturned by courts when they were unconstitutional.
The President, as head of the Executive Branch, makes sure that Congress follows the laws it passes. The President also can issue Executive Orders, which are similar to proclamations, and has the power to appoint Supreme Court justices and other judges. These appointments must be confirmed by the Senate, which is part of the Legislative Branch. The President can also veto bills that are passed by Congress, which is another way that the executive and legislative branches check each other.
The Judiciary Branch interprets the laws that are passed by the other branches of government. The President has the power to veto any of these laws and can be removed from office by Congress, which is part of the Legislative branch. In addition, the Judiciary Branch will overturn any laws that are deemed to be unconstitutional.