Winner of the 2020 Outstanding Book Award Presented by the Public and Nonprofit Section of the National Academy of Management
Winner of the 2019 Louis Brownlow Book Award from the National Academy of Public Administration
Bureaucracy, confusing paperwork, and complex regulations—or what public policy scholars Pamela Herd and Donald Moynihan call administrative burdens—often introduce delay and frustration into our experiences with government agencies. Administrative burdens diminish the effectiveness of public programs and can even block individuals from fundamental rights like voting. In AdministrativeBurden, Herd and Moynihan document that the administrative burdens citizens regularly encounter in their interactions with the state are not simply unintended byproducts of governance, but the result of deliberate policy choices. Because burdens affect people’s perceptions of government and often perpetuate long-standing inequalities, understanding why administrative burdens exist and how they can be reduced is essential for maintaining a healthy public sector.
Through in-depth case studies of federal programs and controversial legislation, the authors show that administrative burdens are the nuts-and-bolts of policy design. Regarding controversial issues such as voter enfranchisement or abortion rights, lawmakers often use administrative burdens to limit access to rights or services they oppose. For instance, legislators have implemented administrative burdens such as complicated registration requirements and strict voter-identification laws to suppress turnout of African American voters. Similarly, the right to an abortion is legally protected, but many states require women seeking abortions to comply with burdens such as mandatory waiting periods, ultrasounds, and scripted counseling. As Herd and Moynihan demonstrate, administrative burdens often disproportionately affect the disadvantaged who lack the resources to deal with the financial and psychological costs of navigating these obstacles.
However, policymakers have sometimes reduced administrative burdens or shifted them away from citizens and onto the government. One example is Social Security, which early administrators of the program implemented in the 1930s with the goal of minimizing burdens for beneficiaries. As a result, the take-up rate is about 100 percent because the Social Security Administration keeps track of peoples’ earnings for them, automatically calculates benefits and eligibility, and simply requires an easy online enrollment or visiting one of 1,200 field offices. Making more programs and public services operate this efficiently, the authors argue, requires adoption of a nonpartisan, evidence-based metric for determining when and how to institute administrative burdens, with a bias toward reducing them. By ensuring that the public’s interaction with government is no more onerous than it need be, policymakers and administrators can reduce inequality, boost civic engagement, and build an efficient state that works for all citizens.
Policy analysis, as a practical matter, is hardly new. Throughout history, rulers have sought advice from priests or sages, and monarchs have conferred with counselors. The emergence of empirical social research in the nineteenth century laid the groundwork for policy advice that was more than an idiosyncratic political exercise, but it was not until well into this century that the systematic examination of policy issues became feasible. Advice and Consent traces the recent course of the "policy sciences," a term coined in 1951 to describe an analytic approach that draws on political science, sociology, law, economics, psychology, and operations research to examine specific social problems in context. Peter deLeon's unique contribution is to delineate two separate but related currents in the development of the policy sciences: first, the evolution of intellectual tools for analysis ("advice"); and second, the evolution of a perceived need for policy research as prompted by events such as the war on poverty ("consent"). Peter deLeon's concise and literate account of how these two trends shaped the policy sciences and affected each other clarifies the present state of policy research, explores its failure to realize fully its ideals, and frames the challenges facing the policy sciences as they struggle to complete their transformation from academic fancy to institutional fact.
Disasters like earthquakes are known as focusing events—sudden calamities that cause both citizens and policymakers to pay more attention to a public problem and often to press for solutions. This book, the first comprehensive analysis of these dramatic events, explains how and why some public disasters change political agendas and, ultimately, public policies.
Thomas A. Birkland explores important successes and failures in the policy process by analyzing the political outcomes of four types of events: earthquakes, hurricanes, oil spills, and nuclear accidents. Using this empirical data to go beyond an intuitive understanding of focusing events, he presents a theory of where and when these events will gain attention and how they trigger political reactions. Birkland concludes that different types of disasters result in different kinds of agenda politics. Public outrage over the highly visible damage caused by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, for example, ended a fourteen-year logjam holding back Congressional legislation to regulate oil spill cleanups. On the other hand, the intangible effects of Three Mile Island had less concrete results in a political arena that was already highly polarized.
Integrating a variety of theories on the policy process, including agenda setting, policy communities, advocacy coalitions, the political aspects of the news media, and the use of symbols in political debate, Birkland illuminates the dynamics of event-driven policy activity. As the first extensive study of its kind, this book offers new insights into the policy process.
In this innovative account of the way policy issues rise and fall on the national agenda—the first detailed study of so many issues over an extended period—Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Jones show that rapid change not only can but does happen in the hidebound institutions of government.
Short-term, single-issue analyses of public policy, the authors contend, give a narrow and distorted view of public policy as the result of a cozy arrangement between politicians, interest groups, and the media. Baumgartner and Jones upset these notions by focusing on several issues—including civilian nuclear power, urban affairs, smoking, and auto safety—over a much longer period of time to reveal patterns of stability alternating with bursts of rapid, unpredictable change.
A welcome corrective to conventional political wisdom, Agendas and Instability revises our understanding of the dynamics of agenda-setting and clarifies a subject at the very center of the study of American politics.
When Agendas and Instability in American Politics appeared fifteen years ago, offering a profoundly original account of how policy issues rise and fall on the national agenda, the Journal of Politics predicted that it would “become a landmark study of public policy making and American politics.” That prediction proved true and, in this long-awaited second edition, Bryan Jones and Frank Baumgartner refine their influential argument and expand it to illuminate the workings of democracies beyond the United States.
The authors retain all the substance of their contention that short-term, single-issue analyses cast public policy too narrowly as the result of cozy and dependable arrangements among politicians, interest groups, and the media. Jones and Baumgartner provide a different interpretation by taking the long view of several issues—including nuclear energy, urban affairs, smoking, and auto safety—to demonstrate that bursts of rapid, unpredictable policy change punctuate the patterns of stability more frequently associated with government. Featuring a new introduction and two additional chapters, this updated edition ensures that their findings will remain a touchstone of policy studies for many years to come.
Politics in Alaska have changed significantly since the last major book on the subject was published more than twenty years ago, with the rise and fall of Sarah Palin and the rise and fall of oil prices being but two of the many developments to alter the political landscape.
This book, the most comprehensive on the subject to date, focuses on the question of how beliefs, institutions, personalities, and power interact to shape Alaska politics and public policy. Drawing on these interactions, the contributors explain how and why certain issues get dealt with successfully and others unsuccessfully, and why some issues are taken up quickly while others are not addressed at all. This comprehensive guide to the political climate of Alaska will be essential to anyone studying the politics of America’s largest—and in some ways most unusual—state.
Zahariadis offers a theory that explains policymaking when "ambiguity" is present—a state in which there are many ways, often irreconcilable, of thinking about an issue. Expanding and extending John Kingdon's influential "multiple streams" model that explains agenda setting, Zahariadis argues that manipulation, the bending of ideas, process, and beliefs to get what you want out of the policy process, is the key to understanding the dynamics of policymaking in conditions of ambiguity. He takes one of the major theories of public policy to the next step in three different ways: he extends it to a different form of government (parliamentary democracies, where Kingdon looked only at what he called the United States's presidential "organized anarchy" form of government); he examines the entire policy formation process, not just agenda setting; and he applies it to foreign as well as domestic policy.
This book combines theory with cases to illuminate policymaking in a variety of modern democracies. The cases cover economic policymaking in Britain, France, and Germany, foreign policymaking in Greece, all compared to the U.S. (where the model was first developed), and an innovative computer simulation of the policy process.
This book engagingly presents an intriguing account of many of the principles of UK government politics and how these have an important bearing on everyday office life as experienced by the working population. Here is a fascinating account of the findings of two former Cabinet ministers—Lords Blunkett and Baker—who were interviewed by the author. The overriding aim is to analyze the nature of 'politicking' in central government and to apply the techniques and lessons of national politics to everyday office life. The author shows how Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair initially supposedly gave Baker and Blunkett considerable scope in introducing reform. He goes on to explain how the two peers give their critique on policy-making against a background which is of definite benefit to white collar office workers.
The task of deliberating public policy falls preeminently to Congress. But decisions on matters ranging from budget deficits to the war with Iraq, among others, raise serious doubts about its performance. In Deliberative Choices, Gary Mucciaroni and Paul J. Quirk assess congressional deliberation by analyzing debate on the House and Senate floors. Does debate genuinely inform members of Congress and the public? Or does it mostly mislead and manipulate them?
Mucciaroni and Quirk argue that in fashioning the claims they use in debate, legislators make a strategic trade-off between boosting their rhetorical force and ensuring their ability to withstand scrutiny. Using three case studies—welfare reform, repeal of the estate tax, and telecommunications deregulation—the authors show how legislators’ varying responses to such a trade-off shape the issues they focus on, the claims they make, and the information they provide in support of those claims.
Mucciaroni and Quirk conclude that congressional debate generally is only moderately realistic and informed. It often trades in half-truths, omissions, and sometimes even outright falsehoods. Yet some debates are highly informative. Moreover, the authors believe it’s possible to improve congressional deliberation, and they recommend reforms designed to do so.
For many decades, underdevelopment in much of the world was blamed variously on capital deficits, exploitation by rich nations, and market-distorting economic policies. The chapters in this volume provide much of the evidence underpinning a growing consensus among development and growth economists that successful economic development depends more fundamentally on the way societies are organized and governed. They argue that "good governance" is a prerequisite to sustained increases in living standards.
The difference between developmental success and failure in this view has little to do with natural resource availability, climate, aid, or developed nations' policies. Rather, it is largely a function of whether incentives within a given society steer wealth-maximizing individuals toward producing new wealth or toward diverting it from others. The chapters, seminal essays written by Mancur Olson and his IRIS Center colleagues, provide theoretical and/or empirical underpinnings for the emerging consensus that differences in the way governments and societies are organized have enormous implications for the structure of incentives faced by politicians, bureaucrats, investors, and workers, which in turn determines the level of a nation's material well-being.
Overall this volume applies tools and concepts from the "New Institutional Economics" to some of the major issues in economic development. It will be of interest to scholars and students of various disciplines--including political science, law, and sociology as well as economics--interested in the determinants of economic development and global economic change. The book will also be of interest to many aid practitioners, particularly those working in anticorruption and public sector reform issues.
Stephen Knack is Senior Research Economist, Development Research Group, the World Bank.
"Observers have long marveled at the spread of ideas and policies from state to state in American democracy. But why and how do politicians, professionals, and citizens in one state take inspiration from national policy debates and imitate, resist, and rework legislative models from other states? For the first time in this important new book, Andrew Karch analyzes in depth the process of policy 'diffusion' across the states, offering a nuanced and powerful framework to explain one of the most important and recurrent features of U.S. politics."
---Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, Harvard University
"Karch does two things with remarkable skill. First, he makes sense of the copious literature on policy diffusion and extends that literature in a very fruitful way. Second, he conducts the most thorough and methodologically sound empirical study of policy diffusion to date, using both qualitative and quantitative analysis. This book is so well written and thoughtful that it will likely stimulate a whole new wave of study of state policy and its diffusion."
---Chris Mooney, editor of State Politics and Policy Quarterly
"Democratic Laboratories goes beyond standard 'diffusion of innovation' approaches to analyze the complex interaction of interstate and intrastate political forces that shapes policy change. The book is a major contribution to the study of American federalism---and a very good read."
---Kent Weaver, Brookings Institution
"Andrew Karch has something new and important to say about the states as laboratories of democracies. In his masterful account we learn about the actual process of diffusion of recent health and welfare policy reforms. "
---Virginia Gray, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"Democratic Laboratories is the seminal work on policy diffusion among the American states. Rigorously designed and well written, it is the new starting place for anyone interested in this important topic. The findings are copious and loaded with insights into the future of this valuable research."
---Harrell Rodgers, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, University of Houston
Andrew Karch is Assistant Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.
Divided Power is a collection of eight original essays written for the Fulbright Institute of International Relations that focuses on timely yet unanswerable questions about the relationship between the executive and legislative branches in the formation of American foreign policy. In trying to answer questions about what the nationâ€™s foreign policy is, and who has the upper hand in making it, these essays examine the struggle between the constant of the division of powers mandated by the Constitution (ambiguous though it may be) and the ever-changing political realities and conventional wisdoms of the day. Within that context, the authors also examine the society and culture in which those realities and wisdoms are nested. The goal of these essays is to offer a snapshot in time of the interaction of the executive and legislative branches in the shaping of our foreign policy, framed and informed by the intellectual and political realities that characterize the postâ€“Cold War, postâ€“September 11 world.
Until recently, policy evaluation has mostly meant assessing whether government programs raise reading levels, decrease teen pregnancy rates, improve air quality levels, lower drunk-driving rates, or achieve any of the other goals that government programs are ostensibly created to do. Whether or not such programs also have consequences with respect to future demands for government action and whether government programs can heighten—or dampen—citizen involvement in civic activities are questions that are typically overlooked.
This book applies such questions to local government. Employing policy feedback theory to a series of local government programs, Elaine B. Sharp shows that these programs do have consequences with respect to citizens’ political participation. Unlike other feedback theory investigations, which tend to focus on federal government programs, Sharp’s looks at a broad range of policy at the local level, including community policing programs, economic development for businesses, and neighborhood empowerment programs.
With this clear-eyed analysis, Sharp finds that local governments’ social program activities actually dampen participation of the have-nots, while cities’ development programs reinforce the political involvement of already-privileged business interests. Meanwhile, iconic urban programs such as community policing and broader programs of neighborhood empowerment fail to enhance civic engagement or build social capital at the neighborhood level; at worst, they have the potential to deepen divisions—especially racial divisions—that undercut urban neighborhoods.
The political dynamics of the European Union can often appear confusing, shrouded as they are in complex legislative processes. This book offers a clear and thorough critical introduction to the origins, development and current direction of the EU, and pinpoints the major policy debates animating decision-makers.
This revised and updated edition offers a well-illustrated analysis of each of the EU¹s major policy areas, and covers arguments both for and against the EU. McGiffen explores subjects including enlargement, internal and external security, the Euro, trade, the environment, employment, transport and regional policy. He explains how and why the debate about membership is frequently and falsely presented as if it were a conflict between 'nationalism' and Œinternationalism', and argues instead that the EU is merely one of a number of possible solutions to the the economic and political problems facing Europe.
Published in association with Spectre.
Steve McGiffen is a writer, author and consultant. Until recently he worked for the United Left Group in the European Parliament and the Socialist Party of the Netherlands. He is editor of Spectre, a radical left website which can be read at www.spectrezine.org, His previous books include Biotechnology (Pluto Press, 2005).
This book explores the effects of global socio-economic forces on the domestic policies and administrative institutions of Japan and the United States, and it explains how these global factors have shifted power and authority downward from the national government to subnational governments.
This major comparative study comprises ten pairs of essays written by leading Japanese and American scholars on parallel public policy issues, institutional patterns, and intergovernmental relations in Japan and the United States, all set in the context of globalization and its impact on decentralization in each country. The twenty contributors and the editors provide new insights into the domestic consequences of global interdependence by examining emerging strategies for dealing with environmental concerns, urban problems, infrastructure investments, financial policies, and human services issues.
An important study of the changing global setting, Globalization and Decentralization emphasizes the innovative and adaptive roles played by Japanese and American state, provincial, regional, and local governments in responding to the dramatic economic and political power shifts created by the new world order.
By highlighting the degree to which meaning making in public policy is more a cultural struggle than a rational and analytical project, Governing Narratives brings public administration back into a political context.
In Governing Narratives, Hugh T. Miller takes a narrative approach in conceptualizing the politics of public policy. In this approach, signs and ideographs—that is, constellations of images, feelings, values, and conceptualization—are woven into policy narratives through the use of story lines. For example, the ideograph “acid rain” is part of an environmental narrative that links dead trees to industrial air pollution. The struggle for meaning capture is a political struggle, most in evidence during times of change or when status quo practices are questioned.
Public policy is often considered to be the end result of empirical studies, quantitative analyses, and objective evaluation. But the empirical norms of science and rationality that have informed public policy research have also hidden from view those vexing aspects of public policy discourse outside of methodological rigor.
Phrases such as “three strikes and you’re out” or “flood of immigrants” or “don’t ask, don’t tell” or “crack baby” or “the death tax” have come to play crucial roles in public policy, not because of the reality they are purported to reflect, but because the meanings, emotions, and imagery connoted by these symbolizations resonate in our culture.
Social practices, the very material of social order and cultural stability, are inextricably linked to the policy discourse that accompanies social change. Eventually a winning narrative dominates and becomes institutionalized into practice and implemented via public administration. Policy is symbiotically associated with these winning narratives. Practices might change again, but this inevitably entails renewed political contestation. The competition among symbolizations does not imply that the best narrative wins, only that a narrative has won for the time being. However, unsettling the established narrative is a difficult political task, particularly when the narrative has evolved into habitual institutionalized practice.
Governing Narratives convincingly links public policy to the discourse and rhetoric of deliberative politics.
The underappreciated but surprisingly successful implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) helped rescue the economy during the Great Recession and represented one of the most important achievements of the Obama presidency. It tested all levels of government with urgent time frames and extensive accountability requirements. While ARRA passed most tests with comparatively little mismanagement or fraud, negative public and media perceptions of the initiative deprived the president of political credit.
Drawing on more than two hundred interviews and nationwide field research, Governing under Stress examines a range of ARRA stimulus programs to analyze the fraught politics, complex implementation, and impact of the legislation. Essays from public administration scholars use ARRA to study how to implement large federal programs in our modern era of indirect, networked governance. Throughout, the contributors present potent insights into the most pressing challenges facing public policy and management, and they uncover important lessons about policy instruments and networks, the effects of transparency and accountability, and the successes and failures of different types of government intervention.
Synthesizing theory, personal research, and prior studies on interest groups and other lobbies, William P. Browne offers a new, insightful overview of organized political interests and explains how and why they affect public policy.
Drawing on his extensive experience researching interest groups, Browne assesses the impact that special interests have long had in shaping policy. He explains how they fit into the policymaking process and into society, how they exercise their influence, and how they adapt to changing circumstances.
Browne describes the diversity of existing interests-associations, businesses, foundations, churches, and others-and explores the multidimensional tasks of lobbying, from disseminating information through making financial contributions to cultivating the media. He shows how organized interests target not just the public and policymakers but even other interest groups, and how they create policy niches as a survival strategy. He also looks at winnable issues, contrasts them with more difficult ones, and explains what makes the difference.
Groups, Interests, and U.S. Public Policy is a serious study written in a lighthearted tone. It offers political scientists a new theory of how and why interest groups influence public policy while it enlightens students and general readers about how policy is actually shaped in America.
Singapore is changing. The consensus that the PAP government has constructed and maintained over five decades is fraying. The assumptions that underpin Singaporean exceptionalism are no longer accepted as easily and readily as before. Among these are the ideas that the country is uniquely vulnerable, that this vulnerability limits its policy and political options, that good governance demands a degree of political consensus that ordinary democratic arrangements cannot produce, and that the country’s success requires a competitive meritocracy accompanied by relatively little income or wealth redistribution.
But the policy and political conundrums that Singapore faces today are complex and defy easy answers. Confronted with a political landscape that is likely to become more contested, how should the government respond? What reforms should it pursue? This collection of essays suggests that a far-reaching and radical rethinking of the country's policies and institutions is necessary, even if it weakens the very consensus that enabled Singapore to succeed in its first fifty years.
William Bernhard and Tracy Sulkin University of Chicago Press, 2018 Library of Congress JK1083.B47 2018 | Dewey Decimal 331.76132873
Once elected, members of Congress face difficult decisions about how to allocate their time and effort. On which issues should they focus? What is the right balance between working in one’s district and on Capitol Hill? How much should they engage with the media to cultivate a national reputation? William Bernhard and Tracy Sulkin argue that these decisions and others define a “legislative style” that aligns with a legislator’s ambitions, experiences, and personal inclinations, as well as any significant electoral and institutional constraints.
Bernhard and Sulkin have developed a systematic approach for looking at legislative style through a variety of criteria, including the number of the bills passed, number of speeches given, amount of money raised, and the percentage of time a legislator voted in line with his or her party. Applying this to ten congresses, representing twenty years of congressional data, from 1989 to 2009, they reveal that legislators’ activity falls within five predictable styles. These styles remain relatively consistent throughout legislators’ time in office, though a legislator’s style can change as career goals evolve, as well as with changes to individual or larger political interests, as in redistricting or a majority shift. Offering insight into a number of enduring questions in legislative politics, Legislative Style is a rich and nuanced account of legislators’ activity on Capitol Hill.
Even before the wreckage of a disaster is cleared, one question is foremost in the minds of the public: "What can be done to prevent this from happening again?" Today, news media and policymakers often invoke the "lessons of September 11" and the "lessons of Hurricane Katrina." Certainly, these unexpected events heightened awareness about problems that might have contributed to or worsened the disasters, particularly about gaps in preparation. Inquiries and investigations are made that claim that "lessons" were "learned" from a disaster, leading us to assume that we will be more ready the next time a similar threat looms, and that our government will put in place measures to protect us.
In Lessons of Disaster, Thomas Birkland takes a critical look at this assumption. We know that disasters play a role in setting policy agendas—in getting policymakers to think about problems—but does our government always take the next step and enact new legislation or regulations? To determine when and how a catastrophic event serves as a catalyst for true policy change, the author examines four categories of disasters: aviation security, homeland security, earthquakes, and hurricanes. He explores lessons learned from each, focusing on three types of policy change: change in the larger social construction of the issues surrounding the disaster; instrumental change, in which laws and regulations are made; and political change, in which alliances are created and shifted. Birkland argues that the type of disaster affects the types of lessons learned from it, and that certain conditions are necessary to translate awareness into new policy, including media attention, salience for a large portion of the public, the existence of advocacy groups for the issue, and the preexistence of policy ideas that can be drawn upon.
This timely study concludes with a discussion of the interplay of multiple disasters, focusing on the initial government response to Hurricane Katrina and the negative effect the September 11 catastrophe seems to have had on reaction to that tragedy.
During the 2008 election season, politicians from both sides of the aisle promised to rid government of lobbyists’ undue influence. For the authors of Lobbying and Policy Change, the most extensive study ever done on the topic, these promises ring hollow—not because politicians fail to keep them but because lobbies are far less influential than political rhetoric suggests.
Based on a comprehensive examination of ninety-eight issues, this volume demonstrates that sixty percent of recent lobbying campaigns failed to change policy despite millions of dollars spent trying. Why? The authors find that resources explain less than five percent of the difference between successful and unsuccessful efforts. Moreover, they show, these attempts must overcome an entrenched Washington system with a tremendous bias in favor of the status quo.
Though elected officials and existing policies carry more weight, lobbies have an impact too, and when advocates for a given issue finally succeed, policy tends to change significantly. The authors argue, however, that the lobbying community so strongly reflects elite interests that it will not fundamentally alter the balance of power unless its makeup shifts dramatically in favor of average Americans’ concerns.
Singapore's success story has increasingly been recognised but few have told it from the perspective of an insider. As a senior civil servant and "mandarin" from 1959 to 1999, Ngiam Tong Dow served with the founding generation of political leaders and contributed to the country's economic growth. In this book, he reflects on these experiences, sharing personal anecdotes and perceptive insights of Singapore's early decades. He also boldly questions some of the policies of government and emerging trends in the country to suggest how Singapore must change to survive and thrive in the future.
Most research on two-party elections has considered the outcome as a single, dichotomous event: either one or the other party wins. In this groundbreaking book, James Fowler and Oleg Smirnov investigate not just who wins, but by how much, and they marshal compelling evidence that mandates-in the form of margin of victory-matter. Using theoretical models, computer simulation, carefully designed experiments, and empirical data, the authors show that after an election the policy positions of both parties move in the direction preferred by the winning party-and they move even more if the victory is large. In addition, Fowler and Smirnov not only show that the divergence between the policy positions of the parties is greatest when the previous election was close, but also that policy positions are further influenced by electoral volatility and ideological polarization.
This pioneering book will be of particular interest to political scientists, game theoreticians, and other scholars who study voting behavior and its short-term and long-range effects on public policy.
Second only to the Red Sox as a major league sport in Massachusetts is hardball politics as it is played at the State House on Beacon Hill. Drawing on over thirty years as a participant-observer, teacher, and commentator, Richard A. Hogarty provides an inside view of the Bay State's political arena, including the workings of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as the administrative bureaucracy.
Hogarty examines both the process of policymaking and the complexities of on-the-ground implementation, identifying the various participants and their roles and strategies. He describes power struggles that are entangled in intricate webs of personal and political relationships, and explores their historical antecedents.
Based on an extensive review of newspaper and media accounts, a survey of the surprisingly scanty professional literature, a close scrutiny of public documents, and dozens of personal interviews, the book addresses such topics as the delivery of mental health services, urban transportation, environmental protection, public safety, welfare, corrections, the death penalty, public higher education, ethnic politics, and state ethics reform. Hogarty analyzes the shifting problems of accountability that arise when public services are provided by a variety of political actors and organizations with a wide range of ideological motivations and social and cultural commitments.
Immigration reform. Bilingual education. Affirmative action. Such issues trigger knee-jerk reactions from many people, and in California those reactions are likely to fall along strict ethnic lines. A white majority has long called the shots in voter initiatives, but with Mexican Americans becoming the majority population in southern California, their views on these matters can no longer be ignored. In Moving from the Margins, an outspoken member of the Mexican American community explores issues that have molded politics over the past decade in a state where division seems more common than unity.
Addressing immigration, education, health care, and economic and political concerns, Adela de la Torre provides a distinctly Chicana perspective that often differs from that of mainstream readers and voters. Drawn from the author's syndicated column in the Los Angeles Times along with writings from other publications, Moving from the Margins includes incisive and often provocative commentaries that provide insights into the roots of ethnic tensions in the Golden State.
The book also includes readers' reactions to the articles, creating a dialogue of ideas while confronting fears of what many Americans view as an alien culture. Whether addressing entitlements granted to noncitizens, the future of public schools, or access to health care, de la Torre challenges readers to move beyond their own frame of reference and consider new points of view. The issues she faces have shaped today's California—and they also lie at the heart of urban public policy in America for the twenty-first century.
The transformation from an undifferentiated public to a surfeit of interest groups has become yet another distinguishing feature of the increasing polarization of American politics. Jill Edy and Patrick Meirick contend that the media has played a key role in this splintering. A Nation Fragmented reveals how the content and character of the public agenda has transformed as the media environment evolved from network television and daily newspapers in the late 1960s to today’s saturated social media world with 200 cable channels.
The authors seek to understand what happened as the public’s sense of shared priorities deteriorated. They consider to what extent our public agenda has “fallen apart” as attention to news has declined, and to what extent we have been “driven apart” by changes in the issue agendas of news. Edy and Meirick also show how public attention is limited and spread too thin except in cases where a highly consistent news agenda can provoke a more focused public agenda.
A Nation Fragmented explores the media’s influence and political power and, ultimately, how contemporary democracy works.
American communities are changing fast: ethnic minority populations are growing, home ownership is falling, the number of people per household is going up, and salaries are going down. According to Marc Brenman and Thomas W. Sanchez, the planning field is largely unprepared for these fundamental shifts. If planners are going to adequately serve residents of diverse ages, races, and income levels, they need to address basic issues of equity. Planning as if People Matter offers practical solutions to make our communities more livable and more equitable for all residents.
While there are many books on environmental justice, relatively few go beyond theory to give real-world examples of how better planning can level inequities. In contrast, Planning as if People Matter is written expressly for planning practitioners, public administrators, policy-makers, activists, and students who must directly confront these challenges. It provides new insights about familiar topics such as stakeholder participation and civil rights. And it addresses emerging issues, including disaster response, new technologies, and equity metrics. Far from an academic treatment, Planning as if People Matter is rooted in hard data, on-the-ground experience, and current policy analysis.
In this tumultuous period of economic change, there has never been a better time to reform the planning process. Brenman and Sanchez point the way toward a more just social landscape.
Edited by Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Jones University of Chicago Press, 2002 Library of Congress JK468.P64P65 2002 | Dewey Decimal 320.60973
While governmental policies and institutions may remain more or less the same for years, they can also change suddenly and unpredictably in response to new political agendas and crises. What causes stability or change in the political system? What role do political institutions play in this process?
To investigate these questions, Policy Dynamics draws on the most extensive data set yet compiled for public policy issues in the United States. Spanning the past half-century, these data make it possible to trace policies and legislation, public and media attention to them, and governmental decisions over time and across institutions. Some chapters analyze particular policy areas, such as health care, national security, and immigration, while others focus on institutional questions such as congressional procedures and agendas and the differing responses by Congress and the Supreme Court to new issues.
Policy Dynamics presents a radical vision of how the federal government evolves in response to new challenges-and the research tools that others may use to critique or extend that vision.
All governments face problems and are judged by their ability to solve them and the policies they develop in doing so. Compared with other Western democracies, Israel has faced a devastating number of problems of unusual severity in a relatively short time: war, terrorism, heavy immigration, unsettled boundaries, economic stresses, internal disputes about ethnicity and religion, and the lingering scars of the Holocaust and other persecutions. Sharkansky’s analysis of the Israeli government’s routines and methods for coping with such an array of difficulties, from simple to complex to intractable, offers general insights into how governments make policy in a democracy.
Policy Politics Canada
Carolyn J. Tuohy Temple University Press, 1992 Library of Congress JL75.T86 1992 | Dewey Decimal 320.60971
At a time when Canadian political institutions are being fundamentally questioned, this book provides a comparative perspective on the distinctive features of the Canadian policy process hich have enabled conflict to be resolved in the past. In comparison with other Western industrial nations, Canada's policies in some arenas appear as models of workable compromise; in others, they stand out as marked by continuing irresolution. In this first book-length treatment of Canadian public policy in comparative perspective, Carolyn Tuohy focuses on constitutional change, health care delivery, industrial relations and labor market policy, economic development and adjustment, oil and gas policy, and minority language rights.
What distinguishes Canada's characteristic policy process is its quintessential ambivalence: ambivalence about the appropriate role of the state, about definitions of political community, and about individual and collective values and conceptions of rights. Embedded in the country's political institutions, it has deep roots in Canada's relationship to the United States, its history of English-French tensions, and its regional diversity.
Examining in particular the delicate federal-provincial division of power and the legislative-judicial relationship, Tuohy discusses how the constitutional debates of the 1980s and 1990s are testing Canada's institutions to resolve conflict.
In the series Policy and Politics in Industrial States, edited by Douglas E. Ashford, Peter J. Katzenstein, and T.J. Pempel.
Public opinion polls are everywhere. Journalists report their results without hesitation, and political activists of all kinds spend millions of dollars on them, fueling the widespread assumption that elected officials "pander" to public opinion—that they tailor their policy decisions to the results of polls.
In this provocative and engagingly written book, the authors argue that the reality is quite the opposite. In fact, when not facing election, contemporary presidents and members of Congress routinely ignore the public's policy preferences and follow their own political philosophies, as well as those of their party's activists, their contributors, and their interest group allies. Politicians devote substantial time, effort, and money to tracking public opinion, not for the purposes of policymaking, but to change public opinion—to determine how to craft their public statements and actions to win support for the policies they and their supporters want.
Taking two recent, dramatic episodes—President Clinton's failed health care reform campaign, and Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America"—as examples, the authors show how both used public opinion research and the media to change the public's mind. Such orchestrated displays help explain the media's preoccupation with political conflict and strategy and, the authors argue, have propelled levels of public distrust and fear of government to record highs.
Revisiting the fundamental premises of representative democracy, this accessible book asks us to reexamine whether our government really responds to the broad public or to the narrower interests and values of certain groups. And with the 2000 campaign season heating up, Politicians Don't Pander could not be more timely.
"'Polling has turned leaders into followers,' laments columnist Marueen Dowd of The New York Times. Well, that's news definitely not fit to print say two academics who have examined the polls and the legislative records of recent presidents to see just how responsive chief executives are to the polls. Their conclusion: not much. . . . In fact, their review and analyses found that public opinion polls on policy appear to have increasingly less, not more, influence on government policies."—Richard Morin, The Washington Post
Winner of the 1998 Charles Levine Award for best book on administration and policy
Dunn focuses on two levers of power in modern democracies, the elected party politician and the professional state bureaucrat, using Australia as his example. Dunn uses interviews with Cabinet ministers, members of their staffs, and department heads of two governments in Australia to see how ministers seek to provide political direction to the bureaucracy. He examines the extent to which they succeed and how their direction is both influenced by and acted on by the departments.
Dunn's analysis provides a rare look at high-level relationships between politicians and executive departments in one democratic government and offers insights into issues of accountability and responsibility in democratic governments. His findings, based on his in-depth look at a government that blends many features of both U.S. and British governments, reveal the fundamentals that are necessary to make this key relationship work well and are thus pertinent to public administration in all democracies.
Ask most Americans what they think of politics and you'll likely get an earful. With suspicion and distrust of public servants running high, many citizens seem dispirited by the very process that has made the United States a showcase for democracy.
Now ask Tom Volgy. This former mayor of a major western city, who is also a political scientist, contends that most elected officials are the very opposite of what the public thinks: honest, hardworking people whose real work goes unnoticed by most of their constituents and the media.
Volgy has interviewed more than 300 elected officials—mayors, city council members, legislators—from all over the United States to offer a decidedly contrarian view of politics. He explores the lives and working conditions of elected officials at the local level— the area of democracy closest to the public— to show that officeholders are for the most part average citizens, not the slick lawyers or political pros we usually imagine them to be. Most are motivated by a sense of civic duty, and they often work for token salaries, yet once elected they give up their personal lives and fall prey to every conceivable brickbat of public and media outrage.
In Politics in the Trenches, Volgy shows what really happens behind the scenes of government. He contrasts perception with reality regarding the rewards and perks of office. He examines the process of experimentation in the political laboratory and shows how the news media distort it. He provides a case study of homelessness to illustrate the system's constraints and limitations. And he offers a chapter on a typical week in office that will be an eye-opener for most readers.
Although admittedly there are many flaws in the democratic political process, observes Volgy, all are correctable as long as citizens believe in the essential worth of the system itself. His book offers a fresh perspective on democratic governance and tackles tough issues such as campaign finance reform, urging citizens to understand the process before they condemn its players out of hand. More than that, this is a call to action, warning us that we could lose true democracy if we don't get involved.
On any given day, policymakers are required to address a multitude of problems and make decisions about a variety of issues, from the economy and education to health care and defense. This has been true for years, but until now no studies have been conducted on how politicians manage the flood of information from a wide range of sources. How do they interpret and respond to such inundation? Which issues do they pay attention to and why? Bryan D. Jones and Frank R. Baumgartner answer these questions on decision-making processes and prioritization in The Politics of Attention.
Analyzing fifty years of data, Jones and Baumgartner's book is the first study of American politics based on a new information-processing perspective. The authors bring together the allocation of attention and the operation of governing institutions into a single model that traces public policies, public and media attention to them, and governmental decisions across multiple institutions.
The Politics of Attention offers a groundbreaking approach to American politics based on the responses of policymakers to the flow of information. It asks how the system solves, or fails to solve, problems rather than looking to how individual preferences are realized through political action.
In The Politics of Herding Cats, John Lovett looks at the relationship between media, Congress, and public policy, showing that leaders in Congress under normal circumstances control public policy on issue areas due to their status both within Congress and in the media by and large. When issue coverage on topics increases in media, however, other members seize on the opportunities to engage in the issue and shift public policy away from leader desires. As more members engage and more groups become involved, leaders lose the ability to control the process and are more likely to have problems actually getting public policy enacted. Lovett look at this phenomenon using newspaper coverage in the Washington Post over a 40-year period, both in terms of general analysis as well as individual case studies exploring agricultural subsidies (a low coverage topic), immigration (a changing coverage topic), and health care (a high coverage topic). As coverage increases, the amount leaders can control in the process decreases. Only under extreme circumstances, as seen in the Affordable Care Act, can leaders get anything done at all. The Politics of Herding Cats would be useful for those who wish to better understand the relationship between the media and Congress. It will also be useful to those who want to understand the relationship between actors in government and how the media has influenced American politics, as well as how individual members of Congress can go against party leaders on major issues.
If knowledge is power, then John Hird has opened the doors for anyone interested in public policymaking and policy analysis on the state level. A beginning question might be: does politics put gasoline or sugar in the tank? More specifically, in a highly partisan political environment, is nonpartisan expertise useful to policymaking? Do policy analysts play a meaningful role in decision making? Does policy expertise promote democratic decision making? Does it vest power in an unelected and unaccountable elite, or does it become co-opted by political actors and circumstances? Is it used to make substantive changes or just for window-dressing?
In a unique comparative focus on state policy, Power, Knowledge, and Politics dissects the nature of the policy institutions that policymakers establish and analyzes the connection between policy research and how it is actually used in decision making. Hird probes the effects of politics and political institutions—parties, state political culture and dynamics, legislative and gubernatorial staffing, partisan think tanks, interest groups—on the nature and conduct of nonpartisan policy analysis. Through a comparative examination of institutions and testing theories of the use of policy analysis, Hird draws conclusions that are more useful than those derived from single cases.
Hird examines nonpartisan policy research organizations established by and operating in U.S. state legislatures—one of the most intense of political environments—to determine whether and how nonpartisan policy research can survive in that harsh climate. By first detailing how nonpartisan policy analysis organizations came to be and what they do, and then determining what state legislators want from them, he presents a rigorous statistical analysis of those agencies in all 50 states and from a survey of 800 state legislators. This thoroughly comprehensive look at policymaking at the state level concludes that nonpartisan policy analysis institutions can play an important role—as long as they remain scrupulously nonpartisan.
It is well understood that the president is a powerful agenda-setting influence in Congress. But how exactly does the president, who lacks any formal power in early stages of the legislative process, influence the congressional agenda? In The Presidential Agenda, Roger T. Larocca argues that the president’s agenda-setting influence arises from two informal powers: the ability to communicate directly to voters and the ability to control the expertise of the many executive agencies that advise Congress on policy.
Larocca develops a theoretical model that explains how the president can raise the public salience of issues in his major addresses, long accepted as one of the president’s strongest agenda-setting tools. He also develops a theoretical model that explains how control over executive agency expertise yields a more reliable and persistent influence on the congressional agenda than presidential addresses. The Presidential Agenda tests these theoretical models with an innovative empirical study of presidential agenda setting. Using data from all House and Senate Commerce Committee bills from 1979 to 2002, Larocca converts information about bills into information about policy issues and then traces the path of presidential influence through the committee and floor stages of legislative consideration.
We expect a president to respond to public opinion as an elected official in a democracy. Indeed, the president needs public support to overcome opposition to his policies in Congress and the bureaucracy. At the same time the president may want to pursue policies that do not have widespread support. How does public opinion affect presidential policy making? Jeffrey Cohen finds that presidents are responsive to the public in selecting issues to focus on. If an issue has captured the interest of the people, then the president will focus on that issue. Cohen finds that having chosen to work on an issue, presidents pay less attention to public opinion when making a policy. The president will try to maintain control over the details of the policy so that the outcome fits his policy agenda.
Cohen examines the way presidents from Eisenhower through Clinton have dealt with public opinion in policy making. He uses case studies of issues such as Clinton and gays in the military, Bush and the extension of unemployment benefits, and Kennedy and cutting the income tax, to explore the relationship between presidents and public opinion. In addition Cohen uses a quantitative analysis of State of the Union addresses and positions on roll call votes of presidents from Eisenhower through George Bush to test his theories.
This book should appeal to political scientists and historians interested in the presidency and in public opinion, as well as general readers interested in the history of the American presidency.
Jeffrey Cohen is Professor of Political Science, Fordham University.
In this timely book, the first comprehensive study of the modern American public intellectual--that individual who speaks to the public on issues of political or ideological moment--Richard Posner charts the decline of a venerable institution that included worthies from Socrates to John Dewey. Leveling a balanced attack on liberal and conservative pundits alike, he describes the styles and genres, constraints and incentives, of the activity of public intellectuals and offers modest proposals for improving the quality of public discussion in America today. This paperback edition contains a new preface and and a new epilogue.
The decentralization of public policy from the federal government to state and local governments offers increased opportunities for ordinary citizens to participate directly in public policymaking. Yet these opportunities may not be equally shared. Due to a variety of factors, low-income citizens have long been denied a meaningful role in the public life and governance of our country.
By contrast, the essays in this volume explore how low-income citizens have successfully affected public policy. The book is built around six case studies, all from Texas, that cover education finance and reform, local infrastructure provision, environmental protection, and indigent health care.
This research illuminates several issues of national importance, including how communities gain standing and recognition for themselves and their issues, how policy agendas are defined, how communities mobilize technical and institutional resources, and how they form coalitions and alliances to accomplish their goals.
Manski argues that public policy is based on untrustworthy analysis. Failing to account for uncertainty in an uncertain world, policy analysis routinely misleads policy makers with expressions of certitude. Manski critiques the status quo and offers an innovation to improve both how policy research is conducted and how it is used by policy makers.
The study of Latin America has long been an ideological battleground. Scholars disagree on every major issue: the impact of the U.S. influence in the region, the political orientation of the middle class, the role of the military, the rate of socioeconomic change, and the viability of reform. Public Policy in Latin America is a masterful synthesis of scholarship on the region. Sloan studies political phenomena not by making superficial comparisons between leaders, parties or styles, but by examining what governments do-the creation of public policy through political process. The decisions to stress accumulation versus distribution of economic goods, the role of the bureaucracy, and the quality of political participation tell more about a nation than what party or persons are in power.
Most models of political decision-making maintain that individual preferences remain relatively constant. Why, then, are there often sudden abrupt changes in public opinion on political issues? Or total reversals by politicians on specific issues? Bryan D. Jones answers these questions by innovatively connecting insights from cognitive science and rational choice theory to political life.
Individuals and political systems alike, Jones argues, tend to be attentive to only one issue at a time. Using numerous examples from elections, public opinion polls, congressional deliberations, and of bureaucratic decision-making, he shows how shifting attentiveness can and does alter choices and political outcomes—even when underlying preferences remain relatively fixed. An individual, for example, may initially decide to vote for a candidate because of her stand on spending but change his vote when he learns of her position on abortion, never really balancing the two options.
Governments make too little use of the skills and experience of citizens. New tools—what Beth Simone Noveck calls technologies of expertise—are making it possible to match citizen expertise to the demand for it in government. She offers a vision of participatory democracy rooted not in voting or crowdsourcing but in people’s knowledge and know-how.
What happens when the allegedly value-free social sciences enter the national political arena? In The Social Sciences Go to Washington, scholars examine the effects of the massive influx of sociologists, demographers, economists, educators, and others to the federal advisory process in the postwar period. Essays look at how these social scientists sought to change existing policies in welfare, public health, urban policy, national defense, environmental policy, and science and technology policy, and the ways they tried to influence future policies.
Policymakers have been troubled that followers of postmodernism have questioned the legitimacy of scientific and political authority to speak for the desires of social groups. As the social sciences increasingly become expressions of individual preferences, the contributors ask, how can they continue to be used to set public policy for us all?
This collection is a useful resource for anyone studying the relationship between science and the government in the postwar years.
Think Tanks in America
Thomas Medvetz University of Chicago Press, 2012 Library of Congress JK468.C7M43 2012 | Dewey Decimal 320.60973
Over the past half-century, think tanks have become fixtures of American politics, supplying advice to presidents and policy makers, expert testimony on Capitol Hill, and convenient facts and figures to journalists and media specialists. But what are think tanks? Who funds them? What kind of “research” do they produce? Where does their authority come from? And how influential have they become?
In Think Tanks in America, Thomas Medvetz argues that the unsettling ambiguity of the think tank is less an accidental feature of its existence than the very key to its impact. By combining elements of more established sources of public knowledge—universities, government agencies, businesses, and the media—think tanks exert a tremendous amount of influence on the way citizens and lawmakers perceive the world, unbound by the more clearly defined roles of those other institutions. In the process, they transform the government of this country, the press, and the political role of intellectuals. Timely, succinct, and instructive, this provocative book will force us to rethink our understanding of the drivers of political debate in the United States.
The Trouble with Government
Derek Curtis. Bok Harvard University Press, 2001 Library of Congress JK468.P64B66 2001 | Dewey Decimal 306.0973
In the past thirty years, Americans have lost faith in their government and the politicians who lead it. They have blamed Washington for a long list of problems, ranging from poor schools to costly medical care to high rates of violent crime. After investigating these complaints and determining that many are justified, Derek Bok seeks to determine the main reasons for the failings and frustrations associated with government.
Discounting three common explanations--deteriorating leadership, the effect of the media on the political process, and the influence of interest groups--Bok identifies four weaknesses that particularly need explaining: a persistent tendency by Congress to design programs poorly; to impose expensive and often quixotic regulations that produce only modest results; to do less than other leading democracies to protect working people from illness, unemployment, and other basic hazards of life; and to leave large numbers of people, especially children, living in poverty.
Bok goes on to explore the reasons for these fundamental weaknesses and to discuss popular remedies such as term limits, devolution, "reinventing" government, and campaign finance reform. While some of these proposals have merit, Bok finds a deeper, more troubling paradox: Americans want to gain more power over their government, but are devoting less time to exerting a constructive influence. Their dissatisfaction with government is growing as their participation in the political process is declining. These contradictory trends, Bok argues, contribute to the problems of our democracy. Fortunately, there are many concrete steps that Americans can take to be politically engaged and to help their government improve its performance.
"Democracy," Bok concludes, "is a collective venture which falters or flourishes depending on the efforts citizens invest in its behalf."
Table of Contents:
PART I: Is Anything Wrong? 1. Is America on the Wrong Track? 2. The Role of Government
PART II: Looking for Reasons 3. The Usual Suspects 4. What Do We Need to Explain? 5. Why Legislation Is Often Badly Designed 6. Why Regulation Makes So Many People Angry 7. Why Working People and the Poor Do Badly
PART III: Remedies 8. Bringing Government Closer to the People 9. Reforming Bureaucracy 10. Campaign Finance Reform 11. Toward More Coherent Legislation 12. Improving Regulation 13. Engaging Citizens of Modest Means
PART IV: The Role of the People 14. How Much Influence Do Citizens Have? 15. How Capable Are Americans of Self-Government? 16. The Ambitions and Realities of Civic Participation 17. Building Citizenship
Reviews of this book: The former president of Harvard, Bok corroborates the perception of government failure...Surprisingly, [he] exculpates the usual villains. Special-interest groups and the sensationalist media deserve far less blame for our political malaise, he asserts, than does a system that frames regulations as rules of legal combat, not protocols for cooperation, and that denies the underclass a meaningful place in public debates...In his broader critique, he challenges a self-indulgent electorate to renew the civic virtues essential to wise governance...In his agenda for national renewal, he challenges us all to enlarge the possibilities for a vibrant democracy. --Bryce Christensen, Booklist
Reviews of this book: Bok's reasoning is generally persuasive, impressively informed and deft at unearthing root causes behind supposed sources of distress. He's especially convincing in tracing regulatory dysfunction to our adversarial, individualistic culture, fragmented government and lack of broadly inclusive organizations representing business, labor and other relevant interest groups...An illuminating, vitally important quest. --Publishers Weekly
Reviews of this book: Here, [Bok] looks at why our laws and regulations are often badly designed and executed, why other nations surpass us in creating opportunities and safeguards for low-income citizens, and how we might improve. Examining hundreds of remedies, he concludes that policy is less the culprit than...public apathy...Readers will hardly find [this book's] match as an accessible and fair summary of current policy and institutional questions...This is a book for nearly every library. --Library Journal
Reviews of this book: Distrust of government is nothing new, [Bok] allows; it was a common trope in the days of Washington, Jefferson, and Adams. What is different, he suggests, is that today, for the first time in history, American citizens demand services--police protection, health care, subsidies of various kinds--from a government in which they have no faith, a situation that is a cynic's delight. The author argues that, in many respects, government is better than it has ever been in delivering such services, and that...the basis of [Americans'] complaining is often groundless and reactionary. American politicians have harmed themselves and their constituents by giving that culture of complaint too much heed, Bok suggests, and have given far too much credence to the opinion of a public that has taken no trouble to do any homework. --Kirkus Reviews
Reviews of this book: Surely, no book could be more timely than The Trouble with Government by former Harvard University President Derek Bok, who laments the laws of the United States tend to be 'a clumsy patchwork of compromises rather than well-crafted documents to achieve intended results'...Bok has written a carefully nuanced survey of the American system of government that contains...some worthwhile recommendations. --Mike Leary, Baltimore Sun
Reviews of this book: The Trouble with Government sets out to explore the reasons for [the government's] shortcomings and what can be done to overcome them. In doing so, Bok demonstrates how a number of the most popular complaints and proposed solutions are off the mark...He's particularly astute regarding pitfalls of understandably popular measures which are intended to put power more directly into the hands of the people, but frequently backfire, as when term limits put more power in the hands of lobbyists and bureaucrats...Bok brings a great deal of much-needed clarity and balance to the central subject of overall government performance. --Paul Rosenberg, Commercial Appeal
Reviews of this book: A primer that ought to be read by voters as well as by the President and members of Congress. This well-documented book...touches upon many of the issues raised in the last national election, including health care, social services, and campaign financing. Bok finds four basic weaknesses in government that call for reform...The remedies he proposes involve greater citizen participation in politics all year-round, especially engaging people of modest means. --Herbert Mitgang, Chicago Tribune
Reviews of this book: In The State of the Nation (1997), Bok compared the institutional performance of the United States with that of other advanced democracies; in The Trouble with Government, he examines Americans' attitudes toward their institutions...As an alternative to the conventional wisdom, Bok proposes a new emphasis on what he considers to be the...fundamental problems of the American political order...Derek Bok has performed a public service by discrediting a number of popular but misconceived political panaceas based on false diagnoses of what ails the American body politic. --Michael Lind, New York Times Book Review
Reviews of this book: As Derek Bok argues in this sweeping and provocative new book...the most significant problem facing America's vaunted system of self-government is not weak-kneed politicians, shallow reporters or even greedy special interests. It is We, the people. Based on wide-ranging comparisons with six other industrialized nations, Bok concludes that the United Nations--despite unrivaled wealth--has fallen dead last in a variety of important categories over the past four decades. --John Hassell, Newark Star-Ledger
Reviews of this book: Derek Bok's supremely rational book will not satisfy the anti-government brigades, nor will it come as much consolation to the defenders of those who make and implement national policy. Instead, his clarion call for Americans to become better, more engaged citizens, only after which will they get the government they reasonably deserve and expect. --Jurek Martin, Barron's
Reviews of this book: One of the clearest, most forceful statements yet about the state of our government. High marks go to the economy and higher (not lower) education; failing grades are dispensed to health care, protecting the environment, and poverty. Why has government failed in these and other critical areas? Because the American people no longer care. Read the rest of this stimulating yet disturbing book and hope that others do, too. --Lee Milazzo, Dallas Morning News
Reviews of this book: The Trouble with Government by Derek Bok demonstrates...that the findings of social scientists can be made to serve an important public purpose. Bok draws persuasively on reams of social science studies to make sense of one Big Question: What is wrong with the US Government and how can it be improved? Bok, the President Emeritus of Harvard University, has produced a magisterial tome that will inform and educate political scientists and concerned citizens alike. The book is clearly written, balanced and concise, despite its 400 pages. --Daniel A. Bell, Times Literary Supplement
This book explores an important side of public employment that most Americans never get the opportunity to see—high-level career executives who make positive contributions to our quality of life. Norma M. Riccucci profiles six "unsung heroes," the people behind the scenes of some of the most successful programs in American government, and identifies the tools, skills, and strategies that make them effective leaders.
Through in-depth interviews and provocative story-telling, Riccucci demonstrates that while these executive-level bureaucrats—or "execucrats"—may have an overall negative public image, they create, develop, execute, and enforce a number of programs and public policies that change our country for the better. She highlights six of these modern execucrats who best exemplify the creativity, determination, and leadership found in such officials:
—William Black, Senior Deputy Chief Counsel, Office of Thrift Supervision, who attacked the rampant corruption and mismanagement that created the savings and loan crisis;
—Eileen Claussen, Director, Atmospheric and Indoor Air Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who negotiated as intensely within her own government as with other countries to create an international plan to protect the earth's ozone layer;
—Ambassador Edward Perkins, U.S. State Department, the first African-American Ambassador to South Africa and the first American ambassador to meet with black South African leaders as part of his persistent efforts to end apartheid in that country;
—Stephen Marica, Assistant Inspector General, Small Business Administration, who investigated the Wedtech scandal, which bilked millions of dollars in fraudulent defense contracts from American taxpayers;
—Dr. Vince Hutchins, Director, Division of Maternal and Child Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who spearheaded the team that developed "Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition," a public-private partnership that improved, and even saved, the lives of thousands of newborn babies; and
—Dr. Helene Gayle, Division Chief, HIV-AIDS Division, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, who is actively battling the AIDS virus through education and prevention programs around the world.
Riccucci not only relates the intriguing tales of these six dedicated officials who overcame the challenges before them, but she also analyzes the specific factors—from knowledge of the system to honesty, integrity, and humor—that are needed to become a dynamic government executive. Of interest to those both inside and outside government circles, Unsung Heroes gives captivating insights into effective executive leadership.
This book looks beyond politics to show how the ability of the U.S. government to implement policies is strongly affected by various economic constraints. These include the credibility of the policies, the ability of government to commit to them, the extent to which firms and consumers rationally anticipate their effects, whether the success of a policy further encourages firms and individuals to behave in intended ways, and whether the behavior of such actors can be sustained without continued government intervention.
The authors apply these concepts to four areas of policy: macroeconomic policies to promote employment and economic growth, redistributive policies to benefit the poor and the elderly, production policies to provide goods and services, and regulatory policies to guide the behavior of firms and individuals. In doing so they provide plausible explanations of many puzzling phenomena—for example, why government has been successful in reducing cigarette smoking, but has failed to get people to install and maintain emission-control devices in their cars.
This book recasts debates about public policy, avoiding conventional “pro-government” or “anti-government” positions; rather, it helps to predict when public policy will succeed.
How do female municipal leaders influence policymaking in American cities? Can gender determine who gets a say in local politics or what programs cities fund? These are some of the questions raised and answered in Mirya Holman's provocative Women in Politics in the American City.
This book provides the first comprehensive evaluation of the influence of gender on the behavior of mayors and city council members in the United States. Holman considers the effects of gender in local, urban politics and analyzes how a leader's gender does-and does not-influence policy preferences, processes, behavior, and outcomes.
Holman effectively uses original survey data to evaluate policy attitudes, combined with observations of city council meetings and interviews with leaders and community members. In doing so, she demonstrates the importance of considering the gender of leaders in local office.
Women in Politics in the American City emphasizes that the involvement of women in local politics does matter and that it has significant consequences for urban policy as well as state and local democracy.