What Is Government?
Government is the institution that controls the direction of society. Its primary functions are to provide stability and goods and services for people. It does this at local, state, and national levels by creating a structure by which money can be raised and services delivered. This is done through imposing taxes on income, property, and sales. It also creates budgets that specify how funds will be spent on specific items. At the state level, this may include funding for schools and police and fire departments. At the federal level, this can include funding for health care, food programs, and mail service.
It also regulates access to common goods like natural resources and wildlife. These are goods that everyone can use freely but are in limited supply, so they must be protected so a few people do not take everything and leave others with nothing. Government does this through regulations such as bans on DDT and PCBs, which had harmful effects on people and wildlife.
Governments are generally organised into distinct institutions, or branches, that have different powers, functions, and responsibilities. A common way to organize a government is into the executive branch (president and cabinet), legislative branch (Congress, Senate, House of Representatives, and state legislatures), and judicial branch (Supreme Court and lower courts). A system in which different institutions have independent and parallel distributions of power is called separation of powers. It is important for a democratic government to have separation of powers because it prevents one faction from controlling the entire government.
Another important function of government is providing employment. Governments provide job security that is not available in the private sector, and they typically offer good benefits such as health and pension plans. In addition, government jobs are often more secure during economic downturns because the federal government is less likely to lay off employees than a private corporation would.
In the United States, there are approximately 5,000,000 people working in government positions. The vast majority work for the federal government. The main benefit of a government job is that it provides a steady paycheck. Other benefits are health insurance and sick days. It is also easy to transfer to a new job within the federal government, even during recessions and economic crises. For those that do not work for the federal government, there are many other public and private sector jobs available to them.