What Is Government?


Government is the group of people who have power over a territory (whether it’s a country, region or state within a country) and create rules to control that area. Governments make laws, set taxes and rules, and provide police and military services. Governments also have a role in regulating and preserving natural resources, such as water, land, minerals and wildlife. Governments are also responsible for providing education and health care for citizens.

The way governments are structured — and what political values they support — affects the goods and services they can deliver to people. For example, if your government supports egalitarianism, it might promote programs that offer universal health care and education, and help the poor. Governments can also affect the degree to which your rights and liberties are protected. For example, if your government values national security more than individual liberty, it might authorize the tapping of phones and restrict what newspapers can publish.

Governments also have the power to make decisions about what people should do and punish them if they don’t follow the rules. They decide whether or not to go to war, and what kind of weapons the military should have. They also decide what is morally right and wrong and how much to tax people.

In the United States, Congress is responsible for making laws about the nation and its citizens. The president is permitted to veto legislation, but this can be overridden by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate.

Local, state and national governments collect money by imposing taxes on people who buy or sell property, invest in stocks or other investments, or earn income. This money is used to pay for things like schools, roads and national parks. Government leaders also draft budgets that determine how funds will be spent.

One of the most important jobs of government is to protect common goods, which are things that everyone may use without charge but are in limited supply, such as public lands and wildlife. Governments must protect these goods so that a few people don’t take them all and leave others with nothing.

Governments also protect people from outsiders who might attack or steal their property. They do this by having a military force to defend the country against foreign invaders, and by negotiating trade agreements with other countries.

A government’s ability to protect its citizens depends on the size of its military and the amount of money it has to spend. It’s also affected by its negotiating skills and its willingness to compromise. A government that wants to make trade deals with other countries will have more success if it offers concessions, such as lower tariffs and reduced military spending. A government that doesn’t compromise will have a harder time negotiating because other countries will see that it is unwilling to change. This can lead to a deadlock where no trade agreement is made.