Government is a system of rules, laws and policies created and enforced by people in power. A government’s basic function is to provide leadership and maintain order through law and order, public services, national security, economic security and social assistance. It also provides a means for citizens to voice their opinions and concerns to those in power, allowing them to have a voice in how they are governed.
Governments are organized into branches; a legislative branch that makes the laws, an executive branch that carries out the laws, and a judicial branch to review and evaluate the laws. This is called Separation of Powers. The United States federal government and forty states divide their governments into these three branches. Each branch can change or veto laws that are passed by the other two.
Aside from providing stability and security, many people think that the government provides important goods and services for the nation, such as public education, public transportation, mail service, police departments, fire departments and food, housing, and medical care for the poor. The government can also help protect citizens from threats to their safety and liberty, such as keeping the population safe through military force or regulating dangerous chemicals like DDT and PCBs that were used in many electrical devices because of their harmful effects on human health.
Other important functions of government include encouraging science and education, promoting the arts, maintaining a stable economy and preserving natural resources. The government often does this by supporting research and development, setting minimum standards for product quality and safety, limiting environmental damage, and protecting intellectual property. Governments can also set ethical guidelines for businesses and other organizations.
Many people believe that the government should be limited in the scope of its powers to make sure it does not overstep its bounds and become dictatorial. A common belief is that it should not have the right to regulate religion, the press, or freedom of speech or assembly. However, many people also realize that the government can benefit society by providing services and regulating the private economy, such as through the health insurance marketplace or environmental regulations.
Some people also believe that the government should have more control over some parts of the economy, such as agriculture and banking. Others disagree with this position, arguing that the government should focus on its core functions and leave other issues to the free market. However, most economists agree that the government should regulate certain areas to keep the economy growing and to ensure the safety of the population. This is especially true in cases where the private sector cannot do so on its own. This includes regulating how much water farmers can use, and setting a minimum amount of grain reserves for banks to hold in case of shortages. This helps to keep prices stable and prevents the economy from overheating. It also helps to protect people and their environment by preventing bankruptcies, foreclosures and other financial disasters.