A government makes the rules for adults to live by, makes sure those rules are followed, and judges any conflicts between the rules. Governments are organized into distinct institutions called branches with specific powers, functions, and duties. The number of branches varies between governments, and their distribution of power may differ. The founding fathers of the United States envisioned a system that breaks down into a legislative branch, an executive branch, and a judiciary. Each branch of government has different responsibilities and oversees a different area of the country’s operations.
The primary role of a government is to provide security for its citizens, and this means ensuring that the country has a strong police force and fair courts. Governments also must build civic amenities and infrastructure for social welfare, economic growth, and development. In addition, they must create and manage an effective taxation system, regulate access to public goods like water, and protect the environment from pollution and waste.
Because the market cannot supply some essential services, like national defense and education, the government must act as a provider. Governments also provide a safety net for people when they fall on hard times through programs like food stamps and unemployment benefits. Governments must maintain a stable economy through the proper management of inflation and foreign investments, as well as stimulate growth when needed.
Governments must ensure that their people are safe from external threats by forming and managing an efficient police force, a fair court system, and a robust military. Governments must provide civic amenities and infrastructure to improve the quality of life, including free public education, health care, and utilities. They must also develop and manage an effective taxation system that discourages excessive consumption and encourages productive activity.
One of the most controversial tasks for a government is to provide social programs for its citizens. Some people argue that these programs prevent individuals from taking responsibility for their own lives, while others believe that they are a necessary and important component of a healthy society.
A final responsibility of a government is to ensure that its citizens are free from unreasonable discrimination. This requires enforcing laws against hate crimes, and it also includes protecting privacy rights and providing equal opportunities to all citizens.
A government must have a system that allows the people to make their needs and opinions known to government officials. This is accomplished through a system of elections. In the United States, these elections take place every two years for a Congress that is made up of two houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The number of representatives in the House is based on a state’s population, and each state has two senators. This system is called a representative democracy.