What Is a Government?
A government is the body that makes and enforces laws within a political community, typically a state. Governments can be based on different ideologies, such as republics or monarchies. They may also differ in methods of maintaining order, raising revenue, and providing services to citizens.
Governments at the local, state and federal levels provide security and a framework for making goods and services available to everyone. They do this by providing police and fire departments, public schools, transportation systems and mail service. They also fund and administer healthcare, housing and food programs for the poor. The government’s ability to offer these services depends on a number of factors, including the amount of money it has collected in taxes and fees.
Taxes and fees are raised by imposing taxes on income, property and sales. This income and other taxable activity is then used to pay for services. Governments at all levels set budgets and make laws to determine how the funds gathered from taxpayers will be spent. In the United States, for example, city councils, the state legislature and Congress all create laws to raise money through taxes. They then draft budgets to decide how the funds will be used to pay for things such as education, police and fire departments, health care and parks.
Governments can also create laws that help businesses operate fairly in the marketplace. For example, they might set standards for the safety and quality of automobiles, foods, toys and other consumer goods. They might create regulations for the amount of toxic gases emitted by factories or for the purity of water sold for drinking. They might regulate how companies can advertise their products and establish prices.
There are many theories on how governments evolved, and some believe that they developed from the family unit or from force. Others think that they are a necessary component of human society. Governments have many different roles, including providing leadership, maintaining order, and providing national and international security. They also raise funds to pay for social welfare and other benefits.
Government can be a friend of business, helping it to innovate through financial and advisory services. At the same time, however, it can be a foe, creating and enforcing consumer-protection and worker-safety laws that interfere with the free flow of goods in a market economy.
There are six major federal government food programs that help people supplement their diets and move toward self-sufficiency. Find out if you’re eligible by contacting the agency that administers your program in your home state.