Government is the organization that rules a nation or a community. It has a wide variety of powers, and it is responsible for providing many valuable goods and services to its citizens. These include things like public education, transportation infrastructure, and police and fire departments. It also provides health and welfare benefits such as Social Security, unemployment insurance, and food stamps. The purpose of government is to protect and promote the safety and well-being of its citizens, while also providing them with a means to participate in politics and make their opinions known to those who govern them. For example, most Western democracies allow their citizens to vote and speak freely.
One important function of government is regulating access to common goods such as natural resources and wildlife. These are not resources that can be easily multiplied if demand rises, so they must be shared equitably. If too many people take too much of these resources, the supply will disappear and others will not be able to use them. Governments regulate access to these resources by setting limits on how much people may take. For example, a government might establish a maximum limit on how much oil a company can produce and sell. Governments also protect the public from environmental hazards, such as nuclear accidents and wildfires.
While the goals of most spending programs and regulations are largely nonpartisan–that is, most conservatives, moderates, and liberals agree on them–the actual implementation of these policies is often controversial. This is especially true if the goals are complex and involve detailed rules that require the expenditure of considerable time, money, and effort to administer and comply with. The costs and benefits of these rules must be assessed in relation to a baseline, which represents the world without the policy in question. This baseline must be consistent with other pending government actions and include the costs of compliance as well as the benefits.
Regulation also has indirect costs that are paid by businesses and individuals. These costs are reflected in higher prices, lower wages, and foregone investments, research, and output. The exact magnitude of these indirect costs is often difficult to determine. To minimize them, the federal government should strive to develop and implement policies that are based on evidence of the cost-benefit ratio and are enforceable through a robust enforcement mechanism.
Government jobs require highly trained professionals who are adaptable and can work in a variety of environments. They must also have excellent communication skills, be able to work with people from diverse backgrounds, and think strategically. In addition to their formal training, government workers must possess a high level of integrity and be able to maintain confidentiality. Finally, a strong desire to serve the public is a key attribute for working in any government job. This is especially important for those in positions that directly impact the lives of Americans.