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What Is Government?

What Is Government?


Government is a system of rules that creates the structure by which people can get things like goods, services, jobs and education. Almost all places on Earth have some type of government. The only exceptions are places where traditions rule instead of government, small border disputed areas and the continent of Antarctica. Governments exist in villages, cities, states, countries and even on a global scale. Governments make and enforce laws that govern their citizens and control the country as a whole. Governments are made up of a variety of departments, boards and agencies with specific responsibilities. These responsibilities may include making, interpreting and applying laws, enforcing them and maintaining order. Governments also regulate public access to common goods like fish in the sea and clean water, and provide protection against some natural hazards like wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis.

Governments get the money they need to function by collecting taxes. They also draft budgets that determine how much money will be allocated to each department and agency. These budgets are based on the needs and priorities of the citizens they represent. On the local level, funds are often allotted for things like school districts, police and fire departments, and parks. On the state level, funding is typically allotted for things like university systems, maintenance of state roads and bridges and wildlife management. On the national level, money is allocated for things like the defense budget, Social Security and pensions for veterans, and management of national parks.

There is a great deal of debate about what role government should play in providing social programs. Some people argue that it is the duty of government to help its citizens through programs such as unemployment, welfare, medical care and food stamps. Others disagree, arguing that such programs are expensive and destroy the individual’s sense of responsibility for their own well being.

Whatever the exact definition of government, there is no denying that it exists and is necessary for civilized society. As such, it is in the interest of every citizen to know what happens inside their government and the process by which it makes decisions. The right to review documents and statistics leading to those decisions is basic to our democracy and should not be thwarted by shrouding it in secrecy or confidentiality. As the public’s representatives, it is the duty of government to ensure that everyone has access to information about their own government.