Government is a system of people who make decisions for a country. It is the group of people who control a nation and decide how it will run and what laws it will follow. Government is also the way that people organize themselves to make decisions about how to do things as a community. People use their votes to choose the representatives who will govern them. They use their taxes to pay for the services and goods that the government provides. The government protects citizens’ rights and freedoms, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. It may also provide citizens with food, money, and education. It is a part of a society that makes sure there are enough jobs for people to have work and that the environment stays safe.
Many different kinds of governments exist in the world. The main ones are democracies, totalitarian regimes, and authoritarian regimes. There are also hybrid systems of these main types.
Some governments are very small, with only one person in power. Others are very large, with many people involved in decision making. Some have a constitution that sets up how the government will operate. Governments usually make laws to maintain order in a society. For example, they might regulate the amount of toxic gases that can be released by factories, or they might set standards for how safe toys or cars should be. Governments often create agencies to investigate or prosecute crime. Governments can be organized into three branches: the executive branch, legislative branch, and judicial branch. Each of these branches has its own job to do.
Governments may also be a source of social programs. These can include food stamps, health insurance, and welfare benefits for the poor. These kinds of programs are controversial, because some people think they take away a citizen’s sense of responsibility for his own well being. Others believe that a government has a responsibility to help its citizens when they need it.
The government also imposes laws to protect citizens from harmful substances, such as lead or mercury, in the air and water. Governments may regulate the operation of businesses by setting rules about the kinds of products that can be sold, and by controlling prices. They can also create laws to protect natural resources and the environment.
In the United States, there are three branches of the federal government: the presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court. Congress makes laws and controls the money that the government spends. The president is the head of state and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The Supreme Court interprets the laws that Congress passes and decides on constitutional issues.
Many children enjoy learning about how the U.S. government works through books and websites geared to them. Some of these sites describe the three branches, how bills become laws, and how officials are elected or appointed. Other sites list fun activities that can be done to learn about the different parts of the federal government.