Government is the group that has power to rule over a country or region, or even an entire continent. It makes laws and collects taxes, prints money and provides services like police forces, schools and mail delivery. It has military forces that protect the country from threats, and it has diplomats who communicate with other countries to avoid war and make trade agreements. Governments also have courts that interpret and enforce the laws they make.
The purpose of government is to provide security and order for its citizens, to protect property and the environment, to help people with problems like illness or poverty, and to give people opportunities that they might not otherwise have. Governments also protect the economic interests of businesses, and they keep markets fair by regulating companies to prevent abuses. Governments also make rules that limit the amount of toxic gases that can be emitted from factories, regulate the purity of food offered for sale, and set standards on the safety of cars and toys.
Many different kinds of governments exist, and they are generally classified according to their structure and the political ideology that underpins them. The most common kinds are democracies, where citizens make decisions, and authoritarian regimes, where a single person or group of people have control over everything. In between these extremes are federal systems and mixed societies that combine elements of democratic and authoritarian types of government.
Most governments are made up of three different branches: the legislative, executive and judicial. The legislative branch is the part of the government that writes laws. In the United States, Congress is the legislative branch, and it is comprised of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives has 435 members, and the number of members is determined by how many people live in each state. The Senate has 100 senators.
After the legislative branch passes a law, it goes to the executive branch to be put into action. The president can approve or veto a bill, and he can create new departments that have the power to make laws, or he can send the bill back to the legislature with a list of changes. The legislature can pass the revised version of the bill again, and if it is passed, it becomes law.
The executive branch is the administrative branch, and it runs day-to-day operations of the government. It includes the cabinet and independent agencies that implement the laws passed by Congress and the President. These include the Central Intelligence Agency, NASA, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The president is also the head of the executive branch, and he can remove the cabinet and veto acts passed by Congress or by the Supreme Court.
Governments at all levels provide other public goods and services, including public education, transportation, mail service, housing for poor people, and police and fire protection. Governments can also make laws that prohibit certain activities and punish those who break the rules. Governments may also have programs that are designed to help people, such as food assistance or economic stimulus checks. However, billions of dollars in government benefits go unclaimed each year.