Government is the organization of people that makes and enforces rules for citizens, and protects them from outside interference. It is also responsible for providing the means for goods and services to be created and distributed in society, including food, housing, education, health care, protection from violence and natural disasters, and security from crime. Governments have been in existence for many years, and their role has changed throughout history. Sometimes they have been in charge of taking care of the people, and other times they have made the laws that everyone must follow.
Governments have a unique power to tax and draw upon the resources of an entire nation, and thus can solve problems that would otherwise be impossible for individuals to solve. For example, no private company could defend the United States against a foreign attack, but only a federal government can create and train armies, create plans for defense and attack, and compel citizen compliance through law enforcement and war-making powers.
Another important function of the modern government is to provide certain “public goods.” These are goods that all citizens can benefit from without cost, such as public education and health care. These must be protected so that a few individuals do not take all of them for themselves, leaving others with no access to them. Governments are best equipped to protect these kinds of goods because they can tax and compel citizens to contribute to the production and distribution of these goods, and because they have the ability to impose special rules that prevent citizens from abusing public goods.
At a local, state, and national level, governments make laws and draft budgets to determine how to spend the money they collect from taxes and fees. They must also decide what goods and services they will provide, such as schools, police departments, and parks. Governments must also ensure that the rules they create are fair and that citizens can trust the decisions that the government will make. Without trust, it is difficult for society to grow and develop. Governments must also respect the rights of property and private ownership, which is crucial to economic growth in a free market.
A third key function of the modern government is to represent the United States in international organizations and treaties. The President, along with the members of Congress and the leaders of other states, makes representations on behalf of America to other nations. The Executive Branch is also responsible for making sure that all of the laws that Congress passes are followed. This includes negotiating trade agreements and military alliances. The President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and other high ranking officials are all part of the Cabinet, which is the highest ranking part of the Executive Branch. The Senate has 100 members, two from each state, and the President takes their advice and consent before nominating federal judges, department secretaries, and other presidential-level appointments. The House of Representatives makes sure that the people have a voice in their own government.