Public Policy and Governance Issues

Describe the concept of public choice theory

Public choice theory is an economic instrument applied in internalization and globalization (Engelen, 2007). It is an economic study of the nonmarket decision-making process while applying economics in political science. This theory analyses a system and provides the best information and incentives to achieve the best results. The theory has several concepts such as voting paradoxes, the Coase theorem, the tragedy of commons, type two error biases, rent-seeking, the tragedy of anti-commons, and knowledge problem. The concept of the theory applies significantly to politics (Smith and Larimer, 2009). This is a clear vision of politics, as a marketplace used to credit and discredit the government.

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How can public policy be viewed as the “preferences and values of a governing elite”? Provide examples

Having policies within a government helps to note the real and relevant aspects of the government (Smith, and Larimer, 2009). Public choice is a strong preference for governing the elite. A policy that constitutes values, and is advantageous to the elite in governance. The policy describes a man to be egoistic, rational and a maximum utilizer. Hence it comes up with policies such as voting rules and behavior bureaucracy and party politics. The policy outlines the exploitation of minorities and the lack of property rights to the people. This sensitizes the tradeoffs between tyranny and anarchy. For instance, the policy assists in identifying ways in which an individual gets fair treatment from the state without exploitation (Dye, 2010).

Compare and contrast incremental and rational methods of policymaking? Include examples of each model

Rational policymaking entails making decisions objectively and efficiently (Green, and Shapiro, 1994). The policymakers identify a problem and analyze all possible alternatives for solving the problem at hand. Incremental policymaking, on the other hand, is when policymakers craft decisions based on changes done previously on that policy. The policymakers are hindered by cognitive and situational constraints. These obstacles prevent them from carrying wide and comprehensive research. Both of these methods of policymaking can work well if the situation is suitable (Engelen, 2007). When applied wrongly they can fail the process. Both of these decision-making processes are guided by cognitive and environmental constraints (Mueller, 1986).

Identify three uses or lessons that can be learned from policy analysis and include an example of each use

Policy analysis enables policymakers to analyze the overall effectiveness of the decision taken (Smith, and Larimer, 2009). For instance, policymakers ought to assess public interest to judge if the government’s services to the people are of the desired quality (Green, and Shapiro, 1994). Another use of the analysis is to compare the outcome of the decision taken to the projected implicit and explicit standards of that program. An excellent example is analyzing the improvement brought about by the decision made in governance. Policy analysis attempts to assess if a policy is worthy of, or convenient for implementation. This is achieved by looking at normative and subjective issues (Mueller, 1986). For example, when the government seeks to maximize on depreciating foreign currency exchange to gain revenue.

Outline the ways that organizations influence the government in developing public policy. Select an interest group that has a role in federal policymaking (see Table 3-4 on p. 39). Specifically, what do they do?

Organizations have different ways of luring the government to develop public policies (Smith, and Larimer, 2009). These include; campaign contribution, election endorsement, and grassroots political support to government candidates. Other organizations have gone as far as organizing dinner parties, paying for trips, and vacations for congress to lure them in their favor (Dye, 2010). They influence the government because they have substantial gains at stake.

This mode of lobbying expenditures is practiced by many organizations in the U.S. such as AARP Foundation. This interest group has the federal mandate to make policies for low income, and the vulnerable in the society to advocate for their need for quality life (Dye, 2010). This organization is well known for lobbying in congress by paying for private travels and vacations for these congressmen.

It increases the expenditure of that section at the expense of the taxpayer. It holds position six in Washington’s top lobbying spenders (Dye, 2010). The favors they seek from the congress are at the expense of the taxpayer. Since this group offers concentrated benefits, then it becomes more effective in shifting the political equilibrium. Not all organizations succeed in lobbying for policy development. Those that succeed have an agenda to serve other people’s interests, while those that fail have sinister motives with the policies (Engelen, 2007).

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In addition to elected policymakers, there is a considerable role for appointed officials in the policymaking process. Explain this statement. What are the benefits and problems associated with a bureaucracy that has both, decision-making and discretional powers?

Appointed policymakers have a crucial role in the policymaking process (Green and Shapiro, 1994). Take for instance the judges whose role is pivotal in ensuring that there are fair implementation and development of certain policies (Green and Shapiro, 1994). Hence, the dominating congress’s influence is losing grip since the appointed policy implementers apply logical collective action in ensuring equal benefits. Bureaucracy holds beneficial roles that are in line with decision making.

The bureaucrats have a substantial role in the economic market since they work efficiently and have genuine public concerns (Dye, 2010). Bureaucracy also holds the least conflict. The only problem with bureaucrats is that they tend to be driven by self-interest hence deciding for the benefit of the whole society proves to be difficult. Some of the bureau chiefs may decline to work with a huge budget in small elite bureaus that are close to political power centers.

Also, they are known to recommend public policies for organizational policies (Dye, 2010). The self-interest in the bureaucrats acts as a trade barrier which hinders the crucial part of the decision making in the government. Some even go further to seek protection given political factors that face them. This is an abuse of power and waste of taxpayers’ resources on matters that are not incidental to the development of the country’s economy.

As governmental organizations grow in size and bureaucracy, the average citizen often feels that his voice cannot be heard. What are some of the tactics that local governments use to help their constituents feel heard? Do you think these tactics are effective or are they mostly intended to placate?

To make the constituency heard, the government will ensures that there is maximized the utility of the budget, and motivation by making changes to the public interest (Orchard and Stretton, 1997). It also seeks more from competitive suppliers and reduces taxation. In addition to that, the government advocates mostly on bureau shaping and supports the general theory for bureaucratic behavior (Dye, 2010). The local government goes further to distribute foreign resources and sensitizing people on human rights. Allowing for constitutional democracy and a free market for the society also goes a long way in making the voice of the constituency heard.

In public finance, the government has to revise its public finance policy so that an individual can benefit from compensation for high taxation. In terms of justice, the government has to push for justice to be applied by majority rule (Orchard and Stretton, 1997). Policies should be put up that allows one to express his or her election preference. Special privileges and protection from the government are also appropriate. This enables people to build a familiarity feeling toward the government. The government can also make the constituents feel heard by striving to solve their collective problems. This is achieved by carrying out public tasks in line with the desires and demands of the taxpayer.

Capital punishment has been the subject of considerable debate, both in the U.S. and elsewhere. From a public policy perspective, outline the pros and cons of capital punishment

With the heated debate on capital punishment gearing up in the US, some various pros and cons were raised (McCafferty, 2010). Some believe that punishment is the ultimate infringement of human rights (Gaie, 2004). Others say that by killing the criminal, retribution for the crimes this suspect had committed is not achieved. From another community, the pain this criminal endures is subjective to society’s norms.

Also, prison is a viable option. In other cases, some of the suspects to be hanged are usually innocent; hence terming it to be a dangerous procedure of serving justice (McCafferty, 2010). Executing this suspect reduces the likelihood that the suspect will amend the damage he caused. (Mueller, 1986). The cons for this matter include; the cost of imprisoning this person for life is quite high hence, execution is more appropriate.

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Sentencing the person to prison will not work because the prison is meant to rehabilitate convicts. Also, by sending this criminal to prison, the lives of the convicts will be endangered since death row criminals are known to be violent (McCafferty, 2010). It is further argued that this sentence should be passed for serious crimes. For example, the sentence for murder should be death (Gaie, 2004).

Identify the pros and cons of social security reform

Reforming the social security system attracts different sentiments across the board. Some believe the reforms will enable social security firms to elude bankruptcy shortly. Critics view the move as wise and beneficial since it lessens the hindrances to work. This will lead to increased savings in the economy. Investing in private accounts will ease the workload of the government on the social security program (Pros and Cons of Social Security Privatization, 2011).

It will also prevent the government from using surpluses in covering deficits. Improving the social security system allows the government to have an organized database of its citizens as well as a clean record of tax and revenue collection. This makes work easier for the government to plan for its citizen. The drawbacks were also laid down. They include; a threat to scrap off insurance that is used to cover workers and their families against disability and death.

The transition from the old social security system to the reformed one will lead to insolvency and loss of revenue. By privatizing the social security program, the growth of the economy will be diminished and fiscal health implications increased (Pros and Cons of Social Security Privatization, 2011). This debate should be scrutinized keenly by the decision-makers bearing in mind that the decision they make should be in the whole nation’s interest.

Outline the role of the federal government in education. What drives the interest of the federal government in education?

The federal government plays a vital role in ensuring public schools run smoothly and efficiently (Ostrom, 1994). The biggest role in ensuring that the schools are funded well and the program offered is a comprehensive one (Yudof, 2008). The federal government restructures and manages how they deliver and implement educational curricula at the elementary and secondary levels. The federal government can formulate an organization structure that will bring up new ideas and ways of conducting operations in schools. The federal government should add up supplements to expand the graduate school.

The major interest of the government is to invest in the young generation for a good prospect. This will enable the government to establish goals that ensure the school program is more flexible and less prescriptive to meet its goals. The federal government ensures that colleges and universities produce career readiness educators (Yudof, 2008). The government has to be accountable for the improvement and performance of schools in the nation. Nevertheless, it should find ways to tap the talents and fresh ideas of these graduates.

Discuss the following statement: “Contrasting explanations of poverty make it difficult to formulate a rational policy.” For example, is poverty a lack of knowledge, skills, and training or recession and unemployment? Or does the U.S. have a culture of poverty?”

Making a rational policy involves making decisions objectively (Dye, 2010). The decision made is based on cognitive and situational constraints. The scenario at hand has both cognitive and situational constraints. The example given can be categorized into these two broad parts. Poverty itself can be caused by the situation of the individual. Others will prove that the cognitive constraints on an individual’s life lead to his or her poverty status (Dye, 2010).

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Healthcare is an issue of considerable public interest. In particular, access and costs are key issues. Identify the challenges of a national health care reform.

Several challenges are facing health care reform. The key element of the challenge is delivering a quality medical service. Statistics reveal that the number of people who have died in hospitals due to errors in the service provided is high. Inconsistency is also another challenge that affects the health care unit. There is a high rate of ignorance and a lack of adherence to evidence-based guidelines (Skinner, Staiger, and Fisher, 2006). The workforce shortage is another challenge that affects health care reform. This is due to the small number of medical practitioners in the country. The cost of providing health care services is also another crucial factor that forms a challenge to the reforms (Weck-Hannemann, 2001).

The number of funds channeled to health care continues to grow as a result of the advances in technology. With the high spending of the government on health care reforms, the taxpayer has been slapped with the burden of higher insurance premiums and other minor health costs. The neglect of doctors and pharmacists also slows down the reforms in health care. This neglect kills the morale of the health workers leading to a poor patient turnout (Bernanke, 2008).

Access to health care facilities remains the biggest challenge for these reforms. Even though the government has spent a massive amount of funds to reform this sector, the problem persists. Better health care is only provided to the insured people whereas the uninsured suffer the consequences (Bernanke, 2008).

One specific tax deduction being discussed is the elimination of the homeowner’s interest tax credit. This proposal is strongly rejected by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). What are the pros and cons of this tax credit? Why is this issue of any interest to the NAHB?

The homeowners’ interest tax credit is regarded as the best way to own a home with a trim tax bill (Hines, 2007). This tax credit has its pros and cons. One of the key pros is that the homeowners will have an upper hand in the acquisition of dream homes (Tax Deductions on Mortgage Interest, 2011). Moreover, the homeowners have an enormous tax break in terms of the interest they pay on a mortgage per year. The homeowners have the advantage of deducting property taxes if they had not been itemized.

The National Association of Home Builders objects to this interest tax credit since it favors those who can get more than one mortgage per year. Congress pushed for this tax credit to ease up their burden of paying the mortgage. This tax credit is a selfish move by politicians to favor themselves. The National Association of Home Builders also sees this move as a form of killing the housing market since the mortgage owners lose out.

To assist in providing new revenues to the federal government, some have proposed a value-added tax (VAT) similar to those used in the United Kingdom and Canada. What are the pros and cons of introducing this type of national sales tax?

The value-added tax mode of acquiring national sales tax, is a poor way of collecting tax, according to most US investors (Hines, 2007). It is seen as a way of blocking leading American exports. The US enjoys the free uncompetitive trade zone without VAT on its commodity. This has negative implications. Implementing this on the US economy will mean that income and corporate taxes have to be lowered (Weck-Hannemann, 2001).

This will leave citizens with more money, and the government will lose out on crucial taxes. The VAT imposed on American companies forces them to pay more for the goods that they buy internally. This encourages most of them to outsource their product thus killing the internal market (Gordon, and Hines, 2002). In other economic markets, VAT is regarded as the most successful way of taxation (Hines, 2007).

It enables governments to maximize revenue collection. The VAT guarantees nations’ stability in market zones by relying on revenue collection through taxation. The world trade organizations term the US taxation system as unfair to the taxpayer (Gordon, and Hines, 2002). The VAT system will be a reliable measure to curb the loss of taxes from illegal workers. With the VAT system, the tax is paid in a collective form on every purchase.

Describe the formal federal budget process. In your view, what are some of the key challenges in this process?

The federal budget-making process is a complex activity that requires the budget controller to know a wide set of rules (Ostrom, 1994). What the taxpayers expect and permit is only content considered when formulating the budget (Dye, 2010). As compared to previous years, the government has grown, expanded, and increased its annual financial spending. This poses an immense challenge to make a budget that will cater to all sections of the government. Another challenge is the growth of the country’s social spending thus making it difficult to estimate projected spending in the next fiscal year (Weck-Hannemann, 2001).

Another challenge for the budget-making process is the erosion of the balanced budget by surplus budgets and accumulated debts. This leads to a deficit budget that cannot cater to every individual. The inclusion of tax limitation also challenges the process (Heniff, 2008). Estimates in social security, Medicare, the cost of federal retirement and health programs for the old folks lead to an increase in taxes. At the moment, young people are the majority of taxpayers. This burden of increased taxes is too heavy for them hence the government falls short of its target acquisition.

There has been considerable discussion about the U.S. debt situation. Briefly outline the current situation and responses available to the government.

The U.S. debt situation is a serious one. This came as a result of the slowed economy in several US regions (Caton, 2011). The US had to spend more on gas due to the situation in Japan in early 2011. In the meantime, the US risks losing its top credit ratings. The problem would aggravate global macro shock. The best solution the government can use is to make cuts in the budget to save some funds to repay the debt (Caton, 2011). Changes made in other areas of the government budget can help reduce the current debt situation. The government should also raise the legal debt ceiling to reduce the pressure of repaying the debt in a reasonable time.

References

Bernanke. B. S. (2008). Challenges for health-care reform. US Federal Reserve System, 78, 1-7

Caton, C. (2011). The US Debt Explained. Bt.com. Web.

Dye, T. R. (2010). Understanding public policy (13th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Engelen, B. (2007). Thinking things through. The value and limitations of James Buchanan’s public choice theory, 19(2), 165-180.

Gaie, J. B. R. (2004). The ethics of medical involvement in capital punishment: a philosophical discussion. New York: Springer.

Gordon, R. H. & Hines, J. R. Jr. (2002). International Taxation. In Handbook of Public Economics, vol. 4, ed. Alan J. Auerbach and Martin Feldstein, 1935–95. Amsterdam: North-Holland.

Green, D. P. & Shapiro, I. (1994). Pathologies of Rational Choice Theory. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Heniff, B. Jr. (2008). CRS Report for Congress. The Executive Budget Process Timetable. Web.

Hines, J. R. Jr. (2007). Taxing Consumption and Other Sins. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21(1), 49–68.

McCafferty, J. A (2010). Capital Punishment. New Jersey: Aldine Transaction.

Mueller, D. C. (1986). Rational egoism versus adaptive egoism as fundamental postulates for a descriptive theory of human behaviour, Public Choice, vol. 51, 3 – 23.

Orchard, L. & Stretton, H. (1997). Public choice Critical Survey. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 21, 409-430.

Ostrom, V. (ed.) (1994). The Meaning of American Federalism: Constituting a Self-governing Society. San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies press.

Pros and Cons of Social Security Privatization. (2011). Web.

Skinner, J. S., Staiger, D. O., & Fisher, E. S. (2006). Is Technological Change in Medicine Always Worth It? The Case of Acute Myocardial Infarction. Health Affairs, vol. 25, 34-47.

Smith, K. B. & Larimer, C. (2009). Public Policy Theory Primer. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Tax Deductions on Mortgage Interest. (2011). Web.

Weck-Hannemann, H. (2001). Globalization as a challenge for public choice theory. Public Choice, 106(1-2), 77-92.

Yudof, M. G. (2008). Exploring a New Role for Federal Government in Higher Education. California: University of California.

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