A government is a group of people that collectively make laws and administer them. Governments are also responsible for providing services that benefit society such as schools, police and fire departments and parks. Governments are often viewed as essential parts of human society.
Governments first evolved when people discovered that it was easier to protect themselves and their property from outside attack if they banded together in groups. These groups later became cities, states and nations. The governments that formed tended to control the resources of their territory. Those in power grew to realize that their actions had a powerful effect on the world around them and that they could dictate the terms of trade between other nations. They also began to recognize that they needed to set up rules and systems for regulating the use of their own resources so that there was not a waste of them.
The extent to which a government is involved in a society will usually reflect the values of those who elect it. In societies that value collectivism, for example, the government will usually promote welfare programs and a strong role for big business to control the economy (to the left of the political spectrum). In societies that prefer individualism the government will be oriented more toward promoting free markets and less involvement in social services and private affairs (to the right of the political spectrum).
In any democracy, the governing body is composed of elected representatives. These people are expected to represent the views of all citizens. To do this they must carefully listen to the concerns of each person and try to find solutions that are beneficial for everyone. They are able to do this when they are informed of all the options available and can see how each option will affect individuals and businesses in different ways.
Another function of a government is to help ensure that businesses are operating in an ethical and fair manner. The government does this by drafting and passing laws that regulate the way in which businesses operate. People who are affected by these rules can comment on them during public hearings or by submitting written comments to the governing body. The government can then change the rule as necessary to reflect new information.
One of the most important functions of government is to regulate access to “common goods.” These are services that cannot be monopolized by any individual or business. For example, the government may regulate how many school students can be enrolled in each class so that the classrooms do not become overcrowded. It can also regulate the supply of natural resources such as public lands and wildlife to make sure that there is enough for all. It does this by setting up rules to limit access so that the resource does not disappear altogether. This is called the precautionary principle. Governments will also limit the number of firefighters or mail carriers that can be hired so that there is no overcrowding in the service.