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Chapter 1 Notes

by: Joseph Lucas

Chapter 1 Notes POLI 374 001

Joseph Lucas
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These are the weekly notes, supplemented from the text and also from in class. Week 1, January 13th, 2016.
Public Policy
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This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by Joseph Lucas on Friday January 8, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLI 374 001 at University of South Carolina taught by Miller in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 75 views. For similar materials see Public Policy in Political Science at University of South Carolina.


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Date Created: 01/08/16
Chapter 1: Public Policy and Politics I. What is Public Policy a. What public officials, by extension of the individuals they represent, choose to do  or not to do about public problems.  i. Examples of what public policy covers follow: environmental degradation, insufficient access to health care services, education, crime­rates, and  consumer safety.  b. Policy refers to a purposive course of action that an individual or group follows to address and correct public problems.  c. Policy Outputs are the steps or actions taken by the government to pursue their  goals. d. Policy Outcomes are the effects of the actions on society. e.  Whatever the level of government, policy seeks to affect all members of the  society.  f. Public policy not only reflects societies political values, but also the conflicts of  values. Policymakers decide by the force of law, which conflicting values prevail. Public policy recognizes individual and fundamental human values, which in  society differs according to belief.  II. Defining Basic Concepts­ All concepts listed below can’t be simply defined. a. Government­ refers to the institutions and political processes by which public  policies are formed. Differs in levels on national, state, and local level.  b. Politics­ “Who gets what, when, and how” (Harold Lasswell) c. Policy Analysis­ The break down of policies by numbers, facts, and arguments to  help us better understand problems. III. Why Study Public Policy a. Citizens ability to Participate and Make Choices i. We have representative that make decisions based on us. They’re  delegates. But this is not the end to our participation in government action. ii. By understanding the process of public policy, following the roles  individuals placed in government, and having an overall understanding of  the issues that we face, we are knowledgeable about who to vote for based on the issues they hope to tackle as opposed to personal appearance.  b. Citizens ability to Influence Policy Decisions i. Citizens that better follow and understand public polices and their affects  are more beneficial to the community and the works of the policy. ii. Citizens are may have easier access and ability to influence local  governments, as administrators are easier to reach. iii. On any level, national, state, or local, citizens who understand major  political actors such as interest groups can join referendums and can easily be mobilized to contact policymakers. IV. The Context of the Public Policy i. Public policy is not made in a vacuum, rather strained from social and  economical conditions, prevailing political values, and many other  variables. Many of which, can be explained within Social, Economical,  and Political Contexts. b. Social Context­ Demographics, or the composition of a population, strongly  effect policy decisions in a plethora of ways. i. How citizens relate to one another in communities also effect policy  decisions. ii. Some decisions also have allowed policymakers to consider the  “livability” of their communities over the next few years.  c. Economic Context­ The condition of the economy has a strong impact on  decisions that policymakers reach. The economy has a direct effect on the  implementation and development of programs. d. Political Context­ Refers to the fundamental interests and beliefs projected in the  American government. Politics goes beyond the focus of the two major parties.  Politics is also the influence of minor parties, ideological differences, liberals and  conservatives, and the ability of interest groups to exert pressure.  i. It is certain that Democrats and Republicans hold sharp ideological  differences in which polices create a solution to public problems. ii. Liberal and conservative are labels that can often mislead readers or  students. Depending on location, one might find the conservatives in a  certain area of America may have some ideological differences in relation  to the overall public perception of Conservatives in America.  iii. Some political actors that may not agree on a policy may not reach a  decision at all and allow the problem to continue.  e. Governing Context­ If one takes into account the concept of Collective action,  one may understand that reaching a decision among a large group is damn near  impossible or extremely difficult due to ideological differences in beliefs and  solutions to a problem. i. This is where the government comes into play. The separation of powers  mandated by the U.S Constitution requires that a policy must be  acceptable by a majority in Congress and the President before it can be  passed; therefore they must reach common ground.  ii. The federal government and states must have governing responsibilities.  iii. In addition to overlapping responsibilities, states and the federal  government have to deal with problems that arise between state and  federal agencies that try to determine what they need to do to get a policy  into effect.  f. Cultural Context­ [Political Culture]­ widely held values, beliefs, and attitudes,  such as trust and confidence in government and the political process, or the lack  thereof. Many of these values develop in churches, schools, and in society in  general and these values can vary from state to state. Different cultures lead to  different policies over the U.S. i. Some policies are linked directly to community values and cultural  perspectives.  ii. The policies that are formed are the political and cultural values that  prevail, which arises conflict. In a sense, many people do not get involved  with the political process because certain public problems do not get  solved.  V. The Reasons for Government Involvement i. When the public and policymakers believe that the government needs to  intervene to correct a social problem, they create or alter policies.  1. Agenda Setting­ to discourage or encourage action 2. Policy Formulation­ where the specific form of intervention is  designed 3. Policy Legitimation­ where the rationale for intervention may be  debated b. Political Reasons i. Reflect a notable shift in public opinion or the rise of a social movement  pressing for action. c. Moral or Ethical Reasons i. Understanding that we cannot solve all of our individual problems, we  look for a solution by something bigger than us.  ii. Government action is seen as the right thing to do even without public  pressure.  d. Economics and Market Failures i. Market Failure­ when the private market is not efficient.  1. The existence of monopolies and oligopolies­ when one or several  persons dominate the market and can control the price of a product  or service.  2. Externalities­ decisions and action of those involved in the market  that effect others in a positive or negative manner. a. Positive Externality­ The third party gains something from  the interaction of two parties but does not have to pay for it. b. Negative Externality­ When two parties interact in a market and a third party is harmed and does not get compensation.  3. Information Failure­ In a market the buyer and sellers must have  all information to complete an exchange. The lack of all  information creates a failure.  4. Inability to provide for the public or common good.  a. The collective good is a concept. If one is able to charge for a good or service, then he/she can exclude someone else  from receiving that service.  ii. Private and Public Goods  1. Pure Private goods­ cannot be jointly consumed, but exclusion is  feasible. 2. Toll Goods­ jointly consumed, and exclusion is feasible. 3. Common pool resources­ goods that cannot be jointly consumed  and for which exclusion is not feasible. 4. Pure Public goods­ can be jointly consumed, and exclusion is not  feasible. VI. The Practice of Political Analysis i. Analysis, in a sense, can lead to a better policy.  b. The many uses of Political Analysis i. Political Analysis is very important in the formulation of public policies  and the evaluation of programs that are implemented.  ii. Represents a breakdown or understanding of the problems and effects of  the policy implemented, in hopes of creating a better outcome.  c. Citizens use of Political Analysis i. d. How to decide which policy is best? Using Multiple Criteria i. Effectiveness ii. Efficiency  iii. Equity iv. Political feasibility VII. Conclusions a. We understand how and why public policy is made.  b. There are many reasons that the government decides to intercede public problems  and these reasons allow us to see their rationale.  th January 13 , 2016 In class notes: I. What is public policy a. A course of government action or inaction in response to public problems i. Includes the formally approved laws that enact policy, as well as the  regulation and practices of agencies that implement programs ii. Its what government does b. Public Problems: problems that the public widely perceives as unacceptable that  require government intervention II.  Poverty a. Poverty Among the Elderly i. 35% in 1959 ii. Gradually decreased to about 10% in 1999 iii. Implementation of Social Security and Medicare  III. Why do we have public policies? a. To promote societal goals i. Some aim to protect lives 1. FDA,  ii. Some aim to encourage economic growth 1. Stimulus Bill, Unemployment Insurance iii. Some aim to prevent property damage 1. Laws, Copyright laws b. All aimed at promoting some view of the common good. i. Some views of common good are perceived at shifting together c. Sometime the government diverges from the public’s view of the common good  (or what the government should be doing to promote the common good). d. In a democracy, we elect representatives to represent our interests i. If they are not representing our interests, we can throw them out.   1. Gerrymandering? 2. Accountability 3. Information/participation IV. Why does the government get involved? a. Political reasons i. Political action by the government can have varying political feasibility ii. Different policy actions at different times will help politicians with  reelection b. Moral or Ethical reasons i. Human Rights, Child poverty. Etc. c. Economic Reasons i. When private markets are not efficient  V. Market Failures a. Monopolies/ Oligopolies b. Externalities i. Pollution (negative) bad for the environment, could potentially harm us.  ii. Education, (Positive) stronger workforce is developed and we have a  progressive economy, lower crime rates. c. Information failure i. Incomplete information on consumer product, consumers might not know  how to make a good decision. ii. Less of a problem for certain items 1. Clothes iii. Can be a bigger problem for other items 1. Medicines and Foods. d. Protection of the public or collective good i. Governments protect the collective resources VI. Why study public policy a. Improves our ability to make educated policy decisions i. More informed arguments and analyses b. Improves citizens’ ability to participate and make choices i. Increases knowledge of policy issues and processes. VII. Basic Concepts in Policymaking a. Government  i. Institutions and political processes through which public policy choices  are made.  b. Politics i. Determining who gets what, when, and how­ Laswell ii. Influence of a variety of “players” iii. Electoral politics are at the heart of policymaking c. Policy Analysis i. “The use of reason and evidence to choose the best policy option among a  number of alternatives” (MacRae and Wilde 1979) d. Context of Public Policy i. Social 1. Societal changes (demographics) ii. Economical 1. State of the Economy iii. Political 1. Political/ideologies issues (who is in power?) iv. Governing 1. Structure of government (e.g., separation of powers) v. Cultural  1. Values, beliefs­ what people view as problems; their preferences  for how to solve them.  e. American Agenda of “Top priorities” i. Defending against terrorism is #1 VIII. Some Policy Tools a. Offering direct services i. Education, Social Security checks b. Regulate c. Tax incentives or breaks d. Grants  e. Educate


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