Government is the people, laws and institutions that define and control the country you live in. Governments regulate not just what happens in public life, but what goes on inside private companies, as well. In general, governments are concerned with the well-being of everyone in a nation, which is why they set rules for health, safety and the environment. They also provide services such as schools, roads, national parks and the military.
Governments can be organized in many ways, but in the United States the Constitution assigns Congress responsibility for organizing the executive and judicial branches of the government, raising revenue, declaring war, and making all laws necessary to execute those powers. The president has the right to veto specific legislative acts, but Congress can override presidential vetoes with two-thirds majorities in each house. The Senate advises and consents on key executive and judicial appointments and approves treaties.
Most Americans believe that sometimes, government needs to make laws to protect people from themselves. For example, if someone starts a fire in their home, the local fire department will put it out, but they won’t ask for payment before doing so. Government agencies at the state and federal level allocate money for things like public education, public transportation, food stamps and housing for the poor. They can also protect the environment by regulating how much toxic gas can be emitted by factories and how clean the water is in lakes and rivers.
On a larger scale, governments can help keep business markets fair by passing laws that limit the amount of harmful substances that can be added to products sold for sale or the amount of taxes on sales. Governments can even make laws to stop businesses from using child labor and forcing their employees to work long hours.
Some government agencies, like the FDA and FTC, are responsible for ensuring that companies do not mislead their customers or take unfair advantage of their competitors. Governments can also make sure that workers are receiving fair wages, as well as enforce safety regulations on everything from automobiles to food and toys.
The role of government is complex, and opinions about it are constantly changing. Some people believe that government should be as small as possible, while others think that it is a necessity for society to function.
Different countries have different governments. The main types are democracy (rule by the people), republic (elected representatives speak on behalf of the people), and aristocracy or oligarchy (rule by a select few). There are also more extreme forms of government, such as dictatorship, fascism and communism. Generally, these are considered to be bad kinds of government, but there are some exceptions. Aristotle, in his Politics, classified government as a form of power that can be exercised by one person (autocracy), a small group of people (oligarchy) or the whole people (democracy). Other ideas for categorizing political systems include tyranny, theocracy, and anarchy. A more modern approach divides the categories of government into democratic, totalitarian and authoritarian regimes.