The Basics of Government


Government is the institution that enforces and sets the rules for a country. It controls the issuance of money, regulates trade, and establishes laws about a wide variety of subjects. It also imposes moral values about what people can and cannot do, such as whether they should use drugs or have sexual intercourse, and punishes those who violate the law. Governments also provide some goods that individuals cannot produce themselves in sufficient quantity or at low enough cost, such as national security and education. Governments must therefore tax their citizens in order to pay for these goods and services.

There are many types of governments, including monarchies, republics, parliamentary democracies and presidential democracies. The form of government depends on a variety of factors, such as the beliefs and values of the people in a country, the historical precedents for different ways to rule, and the power structure of the nation.

In the United States, for example, the Constitution assigns to Congress responsibility for organizing the executive and judicial branches of government, raising revenue, declaring war, and making all laws necessary for executing these powers. The President has the right to veto specific legislative acts, but the veto can be overridden by a two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress. The President and Vice President also have the power to make appointments to key executive and judicial positions.

Some government officials are elected by the people, but most are appointed by their governing institutions, which may be a monarchy, a republic, or a parliamentary democracy. The people in a country can also organize themselves into political parties, which coordinate activities to gain control of government offices and select candidates for office. The number of political parties in a country may vary from one to many, but in most countries the majority of people are not members of any party.

The main function of government is to protect its citizens. To do this, a government must be able to gather information about the activities of its citizens and the threats that they face, and then must decide which citizens need protection and how best to protect them. It must also provide certain essential services, such as education, public safety, and mail service. Governments must also regulate access to natural resources, such as water and wildlife. In order to do this, they must collect taxes and create laws that describe the terms under which citizens can hold property and build structures on it. They must also create laws that govern how government employees, such as police officers and firefighters, are hired, promoted, and paid. Governments must also protect the privacy of its citizens by limiting the extent to which they can monitor their private communications and reading habits. The extent to which a government does this depends on the values it supports and the priorities that it sets for its actions. For example, if it believes that the preservation of national security is more important than individual liberty, it will allow its law enforcement agencies to spy on citizens and restrict what newspapers may publish.