Government is a system of rules and laws that are made and enforced by officials who have been elected by citizens to represent them in a specific region. Governments make laws and provide services such as healthcare and education. Governments also protect the right to private property and ensure that free markets function properly. While the role of governments has changed over time, they remain an essential part of any society.

People elect representatives to city councils, state legislatures and Congress to make laws and raise funds to provide services. These officials are often called a country’s “ruling class.” Government is a structure by which goods and services can be made available to all citizens.

The first job of government is to protect its citizens, whether from foreign despots or domestic criminals. To do this, governments need to have a military and local police forces. Governments also need to provide public goods, such as education, roads and mail service. In order to provide these protections, governments need to be able to collect taxes and fees from the citizens it serves.

At the local level, government may help out in emergencies, such as when a house is burning down or someone breaks into it. Governments also have a responsibility to take care of the poor and elderly. In the United States, government provides a safety net of food, housing and medical care for the most needy.

A big job of the federal government is to set policies that guide America and its international partners. This involves making decisions about foreign policy, defense spending and welfare programs. A big responsibility of the President is to meet with foreign leaders and negotiate treaties.

On the domestic side, the President is assisted by a Cabinet of other experts in their fields who are responsible for handling smaller problems and guiding the country. The Judicial Branch is there to make sure that laws and the way they are enforced agree with the Constitution.

Like businesses, government bodies raise money through taxes and fees. They can also borrow money by selling securities called bonds. Governments use these funds to pay for services, such as policing and maintaining roads. Governments also have a distinct advantage over other employers in that they are less likely to shed jobs during economic downturns. As a result, they are increasingly attractive to workers seeking stability in their careers. Some governments are experimenting with a new strategy for connecting with their residents, called open government, which tries to increase the availability of information about how they operate. This is becoming more commonplace as many government agencies see the value in sharing data about themselves. For example, some are beginning to post information about their budgets online. This can be helpful to the public when trying to understand how their tax dollars are being spent.