What Does a Government Do?

Governments make laws, protect their citizens from outside interference, and take care of the needs of those citizens. Governments also help people organize themselves into societies and communities that are stable and prosperous.

There are many different kinds of governments. Some are small and local, while others are large and global. Some are democratic, while others are not. Several governments are totalitarian, which means they control all aspects of life and the economy. Governments can be organized into distinct institutions that have special powers and functions, called branches of government. These include legislative, judicial, executive and parliamentary. Governments also often organize into political parties, which have the ability to gain power by running candidates for government offices.

Governments provide public goods and services, such as police and fire departments, schools, roads, mail service, food and housing for poor citizens, and social security and welfare benefits. They can also provide private goods and services that benefit society as a whole, such as defense and international diplomacy. Governments can also regulate access to common resources, such as natural lands and wildlife, to ensure that there are enough to go around for everyone.

A government can also manage things that are good for society but that cannot be produced or traded, such as public education and health care. Governments can also address negative externalities, such as overfishing and pollution. Governments can also play a role in redistribution of wealth, taking money from some parts of the economy to give to other parts, such as those who are not working (unemployment and social security) or are elderly (retirement).

Historically, governments have done both making laws and taking care of their citizens. However, in recent years, the responsibilities of the government have changed. Many governments have started to outsource some of their responsibilities to other organizations, such as the police, instead of using their own forces. Governments are also reducing their spending in order to balance their budgets.

Most governments are made up of elected officials. In the United States, these are members of Congress and the President. Congress makes laws and oversees the federal government. The United States has 100 senators, two for each state. If the country got a new state, there would be two more senators. The President is the head of state, and represents the United States when it meets with other world leaders.

In addition to a legislative branch, the United States has an executive branch, which includes the Cabinet and the Vice President. The President also oversees foreign policy and carries out the laws of the land. The government also has a judicial branch, which is the Supreme Court and other courts. The judicial branch is independent from the legislative and executive branches, which can prevent corruption. The judicial branch also ensures that the rights of all people are protected. In addition, the United States has a system of checks and balances to limit the power of government officials.