The Different Types of Government

Government is the way people organize and allocate authority to accomplish common goals and provide benefits that society as a whole needs. Examples of these goals might include economic prosperity for a country, secure national borders, and the safety and well-being of citizens. Governments also often provide education, health care and infrastructure for transportation. The particular types of governments that exist around the world are diverse. The ways in which they function and the rules that they establish are as well.

Why governments exist is a question that many philosophers and thinkers have attempted to answer throughout history. One theory is that people have a basic need to protect themselves from each other, and that in order to do that, they need to form groups and recognize that some members should have more power than others. This recognition is called sovereignty and is the root of any government.

Regardless of the reason, governments have come to be indispensable in human societies. They provide goods and services that individuals cannot produce themselves or can’t produce at a cost affordable to everyone, such as national defense and education. They can also impose taxes and collect fees to fund these services. Governments may also help protect the environment.

People elect representatives to make laws that govern their localities, states or nations. These lawmakers draft budgets and determine how the money they collect will be used for public purposes. On the state level, for example, funds are allocated to things like maintaining roads and schools, police and fire departments, and wildlife management. On the federal level, funds are used to pay for national defense, Social Security, Medicare and pensions for veterans, maintenance of prisons, and management of national parks.

In the United States, the legislative branch — the House of Representatives and the Senate — makes these decisions through their respective bills and resolutions. In addition, the President nominates Supreme Court justices and other judges for the judicial branch. The Senate must give its “advice and consent” to these nominations. The judicial and executive branches enforce the laws passed by the legislative and executive, respectively.

The third and final branch of the federal government, the Judiciary, interprets the laws of the nation and decides how they apply to specific cases. This branch is sometimes referred to as the “checks and balances” in that it can prevent the other two from overstepping their bounds. The judicial branch also reviews the constitutionality of laws enacted by the other two branches, ensuring they follow the Constitution. If they do not, the Supreme Court can overturn the law. This is why the constitutional system of checks and balances is considered a foundational principle in the United States. The United States has the most unique system of this type. It is also the oldest.