What Is Government and Why Is It Important?
Government, broadly defined, is a system of laws and rules created to regulate and protect a nation or a region. Governments also make important decisions about what people can and cannot do and use their power to control the economy, promote social justice, and maintain order. In addition, governments are a source of services that are difficult to provide by private individuals or companies alone, such as national defense and education. Governments can be either federal, state, or local in size and type.
The purpose of government is to provide public goods and services that the free market does not produce in large enough quantity or at low enough cost to satisfy everyone. This role includes military protection, infrastructure maintenance and development, social programs for the needy, and education. Governments are able to provide these goods and services because they have the ability to tax, draw upon the resources of the entire country, and compel citizen compliance. Without these unique powers, a business would find it impossible to protect its customers from attack, build the necessary army or police force, or fund the education of children.
A government is also responsible for protecting the environment. This means cleaning national and international waters, maintaining forests, establishing sanctuaries, and reducing air pollution. A government may also invest in renewable energy resources. This is important, because the world’s natural resources are finite and must be protected for future generations.
The Framers of the United States Constitution recognized that giving any one branch of government too much power could cause big problems. That’s why the three branches of government are referred to as a “checks and balances” system. The legislative branch, made up of Congress and the Senate, makes laws. The executive branch, made up of the president and his/her cabinet, carries out those laws. The judicial branch, which consists of the Supreme Court and other courts, evaluates those laws.
Because different levels of government have different interests, they must compromise and create policies that work for all. This can be difficult because of the vast difference in ideologies and worldviews that exist across the globe.
Individuals can help the environment by recycling, turning off lights and unplugging electronics when not in use, using nontoxic chemicals for cleaning, and riding a bike instead of driving to run errands. The more that people can reduce their environmental footprint, the better it will be for the earth and all its inhabitants.