The Role of Government
The word “government” explains the institution through which leaders of a nation, state or community make laws and ensure that everyone obeys those laws. A government also sets goals that benefit society as a whole and provides services that individuals cannot obtain through market mechanisms. These services include economic prosperity, safe national borders and the well-being of citizens. Governments vary in size and structure, but all governments have one thing in common: They are the mechanism by which adults set rules and oversee those rules.
In a democracy, the government is made up of elected officials that represent the interests of the people in their community, state or country. They work to make sure that all people are treated fairly under the rules, and they ensure that those rules do not violate individual rights or property. Governments also have the power to tax people and provide services such as education, public transportation, and social security.
While some people may argue that the role of government should be limited, most people agree that it is necessary for a society. Without a stable system of rule, the economy could not function, and the needs of the elderly, poor, or unemployed would go unmet. The government is also needed to protect public goods. These are goods that are essential for human survival, but that the private sector cannot produce in sufficient quantity or at low enough cost to meet the needs of all people. Examples of public goods are clean air and water.
The United States government is composed of three branches: the legislative branch, executive branch and judicial branch. The President, Vice President and major departments of the executive cabinet constitute the executive branch, which carries out laws made by Congress. Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate comprise the legislative branch, which sets law. The Supreme Court and other federal courts constitute the judicial branch, which evaluates whether or not laws are constitutional. The judicial branch is the only branch that cannot be overruled by a Presidential veto.
A key responsibility of the judicial branch is to defend the Constitution, and that is often done by challenging legislation or interpreting its meaning. In order for legislation to be considered valid, it must be approved by a two-thirds majority in each chamber. If that does not occur, the President has the option to veto the bill, and it must be re-passed with a two-thirds majority of each chamber in order for it to become law.
Other important responsibilities of the judicial branch are to enforce constitutional rights, including freedom of speech and the press, and to protect the property of individuals against the theft or appropriation by other people or by the government. It is also the judicial branch’s duty to interpret and apply laws and regulations in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution, while considering the practical and social implications of the rulings. The judicial branch must be fair and impartial.