What Is Government?

A government is a system of laws and rules that enforces the will of the people. Whether or not that will is good or bad, depends on the philosophy and values of those in power. Government is usually organized at several levels, from local school boards and township board of supervisors to federal and state governments. Each level of government has different responsibilities and duties, but all share the same basic functions: leadership, order, and law enforcement.

There are many theories on why humans form governments in the first place. Some argue that the concept of property inevitably leads to conflict and that it is necessary for people to form groups so they can protect themselves from one another. Others believe that government began with the recognition that some members of a society have greater rights than others, and that this right should be recognized by a larger group of citizens, which then forms a nation, state, or country.

Regardless of the reason, all nations need some type of structure that will protect them from external threats and internal disorder. The most common means of preserving a nation are armed forces and intelligence activities. Governments also control immigration, ban the possession of certain chemicals and materials that could be used to make weapons, and prohibit the export of goods that can cause harm to a neighboring country.

Governments also serve to provide benefits for their citizens. Some of these are obvious, such as education and public transportation. Others are less apparent, such as protection of common goods like fish in the sea and clean drinking water.

To provide these services, a government must collect taxes from the people and allocate them to the proper programs. It must also regulate the economy in such a way that it encourages growth and provides jobs for the unemployed. The ability to do this requires an understanding of the economic climate and the ability to anticipate future needs.

As the world changes, it becomes increasingly difficult to categorize governments as either “progressive” or “conservative.” However, many politicians and citizens still believe in the value of certain principles. These include: majority rule with minority rights, accountability of elected and appointed officials, and a bill of rights.

The relationship between business and government can be collaborative or adversarial. Businesses often complain about the number of rules imposed on them, and are quick to find ways around the rules in pursuit of profits. On the other hand, many rules exist to prevent businesses from destroying the environment, exploiting workers, or defrauding consumers. As technology evolves, it is likely that the relationship between business and government will continue to be both collaborative and adversarial.