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The Role of Government

The Role of Government

Government is the system of people who run an organized community, often a country. Governments are different and come in many forms, but they always exist to make laws, enforce them and take care of their citizens. Governments are a necessary part of society. They are a system of checks and balances, which keep them from becoming too powerful. Governments can be ruled by kings or queens, as in monarchies, or by elected representatives, as in democracies. Governments can also be a combination of both, as in parliamentary systems. Governments normally have a constitution, which is a statement of the principles they follow and the philosophy behind them.

The most basic role of government is to protect the country against internal and external threats. This is why countries usually maintain armed forces, carry on intelligence activities and attempt to prevent the entry of aliens who might be spies or terrorists. Governments are also responsible for ensuring that their citizens are treated fairly in the courts and not discriminated against.

Some governments, such as those in the United States and Europe, provide social programs to help their citizens. This can include programs that provide food and money to those who are unable to work (unemployment benefits) or those who cannot afford healthcare (Medicare). This role of the government is extremely controversial as some people believe it deprives citizens of their freedom and reduces their sense of responsibility for their own well being.

Another important function of government is to provide public goods and services, such as education, national parks and highways. These are goods and services that benefit everyone in a particular area, but can be subject to free-rider problems where some people reap the benefits without paying for them, or to toll goods, which are used freely by all but are limited in supply (such as fish in the sea or clean drinking water). Governments must protect these resources from overuse and ensure that they remain available for everyone.

Most governments have a budget they negotiate each legislation period, which details their incomes and expenditures. These are generally derived from taxes and fees on citizens, as well as savings and investments that have been made by the government. The budget is a very important tool that allows governments to control their expenses and keep track of how much they are spending on various items, such as defence, healthcare and social security.