The Role of Government


Government is a group of people that work together to effectively and successfully guide a unit or community. It exercises political, executive and sovereign power with the intent of managing a state of well-being that benefits all aspects of the unit or community. Governments vary in structure, but they all are founded on a principle of power that encourages life-affirming patterns of behavior and discourages destructive ones. Governments also provide a variety of services for their citizens, such as providing public schools, public transportation and social security.

Depending on their political philosophy, governments may seek to limit their role in society or promote certain social values. For example, if a government body is concerned with the idea of egalitarianism and the destruction of socioeconomic inequalities, it might choose to raise taxes so that its elected representatives can spend money on public education, public transportation, housing for the poor and care for the elderly. In contrast, if a government body is concerned about national security and the preservation of personal liberty, it might authorize the tapping of private telephones or restrict what newspapers can publish.

Government bodies are constantly striving to harness ideas and resources that can change the lives of their citizens and residents for the better. However, they often run into obstacles that seem to be insurmountable. These problems may range from addressing the negative externalities of things like overfishing and global warming to addressing social inequality and market failures.

While the debate over the proper role of government in a country continues, most governments take on many different tasks to make their societies as functional and successful as possible. Some of these roles are more controversial than others. One of the most controversial is the responsibility of governments to provide social programs to its citizens. While this includes traditional welfare programs that provide cash payments and jobs to help poor families, it also encompasses universal healthcare, national medical insurance and even food stamps. These programs have been controversial because many Americans feel that they detract from the individual’s sense of responsibility for his/her own health and welfare.

In order to meet their responsibilities, most governments must raise and spend money. They receive their incomes mainly from taxes and fees, but they also can borrow money from the public by selling securities to investors. These investments, called bonds, allow people to loan money to the federal government for a specific time and interest rate. In addition, most countries have budgets that they negotiate every legislative period and which detail their goals for deficit reduction, investments and savings. Governments can also disburse money through contracts with businesses and by paying out pensions and disability benefits to its citizens. A government can also invest in companies to create jobs and stimulate the economy. However, these investments have to be carefully managed in order to avoid inflation and other economic challenges. Ultimately, it is the job of the people to monitor their government and demand that they protect their liberties and the rights of its citizens.