Governments make the rules, make sure they are followed, and judge any disputes. They also provide goods and services that the market is either unwilling or unable to provide, such as military defense, police and fire departments, roads, education, and social services. The role of government has shifted over time, but it remains necessary to the operation of a civilized society.
Governments exist at all levels of a society, from city councils and state legislatures to Congress and the President of the United States. Each level of government serves a different purpose, but the functions remain the same: making laws and providing services. The difference between the roles is how each branch of government is structured and how much power it has.
The founding fathers of the United States designed a government with three distinct branches: legislative, executive and judicial. These branches are meant to check each other, preventing any one branch from becoming too powerful and creating big problems. This system is called checks and balances, and it is an important part of the U.S. Constitution.
At the national level, Congress makes bills to create new laws. These bills go through a process of research, discussion, and changes before they are passed. Once a bill passes both chambers of Congress, the president signs it into law. In some cases, the president vetoes a bill, and it must be passed again with two-thirds of both houses in order to become law without his signature.
Local, state, and national governments raise money through taxes, fees, and borrowing. They then draft budgets that determine how funds will be spent for various purposes. This money may be spent on things like road construction, police and fire departments, schools, and the maintenance of national parks. Local governments may also offer services that the public cannot easily or efficiently provide for themselves, such as water and sewage treatment.
It is the duty of the government to protect people from threats to their lives and property, including terrorist attacks. To do this, it must have resources to rely on, such as military forces and intelligence agencies. Governments are also obligated to protect the natural environment and to regulate business.
Some people believe it is the duty of the government to provide services that individuals cannot or will not provide for themselves, such as medical care and education. These programs can be costly, and critics contend that they destroy the individual’s sense of responsibility for his own well being.
In a free market economy, the primary source of funds for a government comes from people paying taxes and fees. When these sources are not enough to cover government spending, the government must borrow money from members of the public. It does this by selling securities, such as bonds, to the public. In return for an upfront investment, the government promises to pay back the investor at a later date with the money it received from the sale plus interest.