Government is the structure by which society imposes laws and raises funds for the goods and services it needs to survive. Different governments have varying goals, but all aim to accomplish collective goals and provide benefits for the people of their nation. Governments can also create a framework by which citizens can work together and solve problems that would be too difficult for any one person to tackle on their own.

Depending on the country, there are three sections, or branches, of government: legislative, executive and judicial. These branches operate with a system of checks and balances to prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful.

Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government, passes new laws and levies taxes to fund the government. This money is used to pay for the things that the government does, such as providing education, enforcing the law and maintaining roads and bridges. Congress is also responsible for setting the national budget. If a bill does not receive enough support, it may not be passed. Congress also has specific power to direct spending to certain items, a process known as earmarking.

The president, executive branch of the federal government, signs and enforces laws that have been passed by Congress. The president also appoints many judges, including Supreme Court justices. The legislative branch, the House of Representatives and Senate, approves (or gives “advice and consent”) to presidential nominations for these positions. Congress also has the power to impeach a president or remove him from office.

There are also several specialized branches of the United States government, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security. Each of these have their own unique responsibilities and operate with a separate set of rules.

Getting a good grasp of the basics of how your government works is essential to understanding the politics and policies you see in your everyday life. There are plenty of resources out there, from the official government websites to textbooks on political science. Educators can even find project-based learning programs, such as Project Citizen and Solution Civics, that help students identify potential solutions to real-world problems and present them to the appropriate government officials. Another option is C-SPAN’s StudentCam, which has a similar goal but requires students to make a documentary about a particular issue.