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What Is Government and What Are Its Responsibilities?

What Is Government and What Are Its Responsibilities?


Government is the system of rules and responsibilities that people organize to accomplish collective goals and provide benefits for all citizens. Governments have a wide range of responsibilities, from protecting national borders to providing education and health care. Each type of government has its own way of organizing itself and distributing authority, but all governments must have some sort of rules to prevent chaos and conflict.

The word government comes from the Latin verb gubernare, which means “to govern.” It first appeared in English in the late thirteenth century, probably borrowed from Norman French and from Latin, where it was used for administration, law and just about anything else formal. Today, the term is mostly used for national, state and local authorities, and is a part of the language of politics and economics.

In some countries, like the United States, people elect representatives to city councils, state legislatures and Congress to make laws and decide how to spend money. The government then passes taxes and budgets that determine how much money is collected and how it will be spent. This money is usually earmarked for things like schools, police departments and parks.

Another important job of the government is to protect common goods such as wildlife and natural resources. These goods are available for all to use free of charge, but they have limited supply. If too many people take these resources, there won’t be any left for others to use. Governments must also ensure that all people have access to public goods, such as mail services and fire departments, even if they cannot afford to pay for them.

The most important job of the government is to protect its citizens from danger and conflict, both inside and outside its borders. The government must be able to build military forces to defend the country against enemies, and it must be able to protect its citizens from terrorists. Governments also must regulate the economy and protect property rights. Governments must keep the peace, make laws and treaties, and provide a variety of services, such as roads, schools and hospitals.

Most governments allow their citizens to vote on what kinds of policies should be made. They also must provide their citizens with ways to express their opinions and make demands on the government, such as newspapers and television stations. Governments must also give citizens freedom of religion and freedom of speech, though this is not always possible in all governments.

The different types of governments vary in how they execute their responsibilities, but all have the same basic duties, such as regulating society, defending against attack, regulating the economy and providing public services. Some governments are run by a single person (an autocracy), a select group of people (an oligarchy) or the whole population (a democracy). Each type of government has its own advantages and disadvantages, but all share some similar features. These characteristics are what distinguish one form of government from another.