How Does Government Work?
Government is the system by which adults decide what rules all of us must live by. It also makes sure those rules are followed and judges any disputes over them. Government comes in many different forms, from the national government framed by the Constitution to local school board policies. Each of these levels works in concert with the others to make the whole machine work.
People are often very passionate about what government should do, especially when it’s not doing what they think it should be doing. But there are a lot of different ways that governments work, and each type has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some of the most common types of governments are democracies, republics, and monarchies. These are all examples of governments that depend on the input and votes of citizens to set their priorities.
Democracy is the most popular form of government around the world. In a democracy, people elect leaders who represent their social and economic interests. The politicians usually belong to political parties, groups of people with similar ideas and philosophies. Each party has its own philosophy about what kind of role the government should play in society.
Some of the things governments do most often are to protect citizens, keep the economy running smoothly, and provide goods and services that people need but can’t get themselves. These kinds of goods are called public goods. They include national defense, education, the environment, and social security. Governments can only afford to provide these goods if they collect taxes or borrow money from the people who use them.
In addition to public goods, governments often enact laws to ensure free and fair trade. They may impose limits on monopolies and cartels that prevent the efficient allocation of resources in open markets. They might even redistribute income through taxes and welfare programs. Governments can make the economy function more efficiently by regulating or restricting some activities, but they must be careful not to do too much because of the negative effects that can arise from too much government activity.
Generally, most Americans believe the government does a good job of keeping the country safe from terrorist attacks, protecting the environment, and providing food and medicine. However, the American people are less positive about how well government is doing in a variety of other areas. People are particularly critical of the way that government handles immigration, helping the poor, and preventing crime.