Government Types and Responsibilities
Governments provide rules and responsibilities for the people they serve, protect citizens from outside interference and provide services that improve the lives of individuals and communities. These responsibilities and goals are complex and diverse, but they all require some form of central authority to oversee them. Governments also have the power to impose taxation, enforce laws and punish treason and other crimes. The types of governments vary, but the fundamental principles include: a democratic process with majority rule, individual rights, checks and balances, limited government and a Bill of Rights that limits its powers while providing its citizens security and freedom.
Policy describes a course of action, creating a starting point for change. Policies can influence how much taxes you pay, whether you can operate a business, what kind of education you receive and even where you park your car. Government departments and agencies are responsible for putting policy into practice, but they do so with input from people, businesses and other entities.
While some people see government as a dangerous tool that can be used to control or limit freedoms, others argue that there is a need for public officials to set and enforce standards. These officials must govern in a way that is fair to all members of society, whether they are rich or poor, young or old. They must protect the environment, provide health care and social services, make sure workers are paid fairly, ensure companies obey immigration laws, and regulate financial markets.
Other government bodies have a broader scope, aiming to address the larger needs of a nation or area. These may include national welfare initiatives, such as unemployment benefits and healthcare coverage. They can also focus on economic disparity, via methods such as wealth redistribution and taxation systems. Finally, there are the regional or local bodies, tasked with overseeing essential services such as schools and social care, waste collection, business support, housing, planning and licensing.
All of these bodies are constantly looking for ways to harness ideas and resources to address problems that seem endless. Many of these issues can be complex, including reducing pollution, protecting the climate, addressing resource distribution and reducing poverty. The solutions can be complicated, requiring new technologies and approaches, and some will involve collaboration with other governments or private organizations. Ultimately, the success of these policies depends on the ability to create and sustain the structures that can make them work. This requires the creation of a political community, with a recognizable identity and territory, that can support its leaders in exercising their legal and executive functions. This community is called a state, country or, more broadly, a nation. Various theories exist for the origins of these political communities, but most recognize that they first evolved as groups of people recognized the need to act cooperatively if they wanted to survive as a group in a particular place. This led to the idea of sovereignty, which is the right of a group (later a nation) to be free from outside interference.