Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Forms of Government Vocabulary

Unitary: (Uni = one. Think unicycle, unicorn, uniform, unibrow.) A form of government in which power is concentrated at the national level.

Federal: A form of government in which power is shared between national and local levels. In a federal form of government, the term “federal” is also used to refer to the national level of government.

Confederate: A form of government in which almost all power is concentrated at the local level.

Imperial President: (Imperial = related to an emperor or empire) A president who increases the powers of his office at the expense of local government or other branches of the national government. Imperial presidents include Jackson, Lincoln, T.R., Wilson, F.D.R., Johnson, Nixon, and G. W. Bush.

Legislative – The power to make laws (think legal).

Executive – The power to enforce laws.

Judicial – The power to interpret laws and judge lawbreaking.

Presidential – A system in which the executive and legislative powers are separated. (This narrow definition applies only when answering questions about forms of government).

Parliamentary – A system in which the executive and legislative powers are combined. (This narrow definition applies only when answering questions about forms of government).

Democracy - (Demo = people. Think demography, demonstrate. Cracy = rule). Rule by the people.

Dictatorship – (Dict = to speak. Think diction, predict, verdict, dictionary.) Government in which only one person controls the state.

Monarchy – (Mon = one. Think monorail, monocle, monotony, monotone.) A dictatorship in which the leader’s legitimacy is based on inheritance.

Socialism – A form of government in which the state owns major industries and is highly involved in economic planning.

Communism – A form of government in which private property does not legally exist and central planners make all economic decisions.

Fascism – A form of government in which private property is allowed but the government makes planning decisions and tells you how to use that private property.

Laissez-faire – A government that offers almost absolute property rights and allows the market to make all economic decisions. Literally, “leave it alone” or “hands off.”

Mixed economy – A government that generally supports private property and the operation of the market but does influence some economic planning and places some restrictions on private

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