The Basics of Government

Government is the institution that makes and enforces rules to manage a society. It has the responsibility of creating and enforcing laws, providing security for the country’s citizens, managing its economy, and providing public services. Governments around the world come in a variety of forms and styles, including dictatorship (one or a small group with rule by force as the norm), empire (established by conquering), feudalism (orderly pyramid of control), communism (each according to their ability), and democracy (rule by the citizens of a nation).

Governments also have the power to raise funds for their activities by levying taxes and tariffs and by spending and borrowing money. In some cases, Congress allows agencies to direct how their funding should be spent (legislatively directed spending), while other decisions — such as setting court cases and establishing laws — are reserved for the federal government’s exclusive jurisdiction.

A major responsibility of governments is to provide goods and services that the market cannot provide for everyone — such as national defense and education — and to protect people from outside threats. Governments that have the authority to tax, draw upon all the resources of a nation, and compel citizen compliance are able to provide these “public goods.”

Many governments make decisions and pass laws based on the advice of experts. These experts are called advisors.

Having these advisors helps ensure that the choices made by government officials are well informed and not influenced by special interests. They may also be helpful in providing an objective point of view on complex issues that would otherwise be impossible to resolve.

The goal of all governments is to serve the needs of its citizens. This includes ensuring that the economy is growing, defending the borders from external threats, and providing social safety nets to all citizens. The form of government that serves these goals most effectively is a democratic republic with a Constitution. This system works best when the people of a country are actively involved in their government.

In order to be successful, a democratic republic needs a strong citizenry that participates in local, state and national elections to elect representatives who speak for them in the halls of their legislature and in the courts. Then, when these representatives and judges make important decisions that affect citizens, the people can speak up to express their views.

The law says that the public has a right to know how government functions and what policies are being developed. The public should be able to access records of government and review the statistics that are used to make determinations. This right to transparency is the foundation of our free and democratic society. It should be protected by the state’s commitment to open government.