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PUBLIC POLICY

Public policy refers to the essential guidelines on which laws rest, principally policy not yet articulated in specific rules. This is the general or most common definition of public policy. In Law, however, it takes a slightly different meaning: the rule that injury to the public good or public order comprises of a foundation for setting aside, or refutes effect to, acts or transactions. Simply put, it is the rules that govern laws that are not in the laws or constitutions.

BASIC CONCEPTS ASSOCIATED WITH PUBLIC POLICY

As defined above, public policy brings out the moral sense in all transactions, be it in business or governance of a country. One concept or theory associated with this is normative theory. This is the subdivision of philosophical ethics that scrutinize the set of questions that come up when we think about the query “How should someone act, morally speaking?” Normative theory is mostly confused with other terms such as meta-ethics and descriptive ethics. Normative theory is different from meta-ethics because it examines standards for the correctness and wrongness of actions, while meta-ethics studies the implication of moral language. Normative concept is also distinct from descriptive ethics, as the latter is an experimental analysis of people’s moral beliefs, while normative ethics concerns itself with whether it is correct to hold such beliefs. Hence, normative ethics is regulatory, rather than explanatory.

Another theory tied in with policymaking is the scientific theory. This theory encompasses a set of concepts, including abstractions of observable phenomena articulated as quantifiable properties, together with rules that express interaction between observations of such concepts. A scientific theory matches available practical facts about such studies, and puts forth as a body of main beliefs for explaining a set of facts. The scientific theory is a form of instructive theory, in that a reserved system of reason contains or controls it.

REASONS FOR STUDYING PUBLIC POLICY

Governments the world over have a reputation of being secretive when making policies the citizens will use. Some policies prove advantageous while others do not bring up the expected results. The study of policymaking is steadily becoming popular in universities, especially in the United States. This study helps the young minds of today and future leaders of tomorrow gain a deep view of how to create appropriate policies.

The total extent of the involvement of government in public, the economy, and world affairs formulates the study of public policy vital for a conscientious citizen. In the same way, the quantity of expenditure by government at all levels makes this an important subject. The taxpayers have a stake in effective public strategy and the larger scale of the government in their lives.

Another reason for studying public policy is gaining knowledge for actualizing solutions to practical problems in the society. The government receive the problems and solves them. A citizen with knowledge on public policymaking will assist in the creation of solutions. People say if a person cannot be a part of the solution then they are part of the problem. An individual with knowledge on policymaking can create a solution, which will be of benefit to himself and the community at large (Why Study Public Policy?, 2009).As defined earlier, public policy is the controlling factor in most institutions. When making rules or policies that will affect the society, the government must have in place this system so that no harm comes to the citizens. If absent, some rules and regulations presumably for the good of the citizens, would in the end become harmful. Hence, public policy curbs these and ensures there is fairness in all aspects.

POLICY ANALYSIS

Policy analysis is the shaping of various alternative policies that will mainly realize a given set of goals in light of the affairs between the policies and the objectives. Analysis of policy is diagnostic and descriptive, meaning it tries to elucidate policies and their development. Analysis for policy is prescriptive, concerned with formulating policies and proposals.  

GRIDLOCK

This is a total lack of movement or progress ensuing in a backup or dormant state. Disagreements at any level bring about gridlock. Gridlock occurs from the most basic unit in society, the family, to the high ranks of the government. Disparities or differences about funding caused legislative gridlock in Congress making it impossible for formulation of new policies.

POLICY CAPACITY

This is a planned itinerary of action within a given situation. It provides obstacles or prospects that the policy proposes to make use of or overcome in an endeavour to reach a goal or objective. If applied in government dealings, the definition is a projected line of action by a government to meet a requirement or take hold of an opportunity expressed as ideal outcomes correlated to definite effects (Providing Policy Advice).

FEDERALISM CONCEPT

This is a political theory in which a group of members with a central commissioned head bound together by covenant. The term "federalism" also depicts a system of the government in which self-government is constitutionally separated between a principal authority and basic political units.

PURPOSE OF SEPERATION OF POWERS

The separation of powers is a representation for the control of a state. Under this model, the state separates into branches, each with detached and independent powers and area of accountability so that no one division has more power than the other does. The purpose of the separation of powers in government is because a creation of equal government is better than a government where one person or group has absolute power. The government has three branches: legislative, judiciary and executive to create a balance in power.

ROLE OF POLICY SUBGOVERNMENT AND ISSUE NETWORKS

The role or function of sub governments is to create a compact network of participants that have a considerable amount of influence in a particular area of policy. Someone who is not part of the sub government enjoys no benefits. The function of issue networks is closely similar. The difference is that the players involved are more and have public interest at heart.

IMPACT OF PUBLIC OPINION ON POLICY MAKING

Policies are formulated for the greater good of the public. When it comes to policymaking, public opinion can weigh heavily on whether it will pass or not. An example is the issue on abortion. If a person tried to bribe his opinion on the issue, whether to pass it or not, it will not work because the public identifies with it and cares about it. On the other hand, if the public does not care then there will be no influence of the public on the matter.

ROLE OF INTEREST GROUPS IN PUBLIC POLICY

Interest groups play several roles creation of public policy. They lobby specific issues affecting the public to those in power by providing relevant information to the politicians. They keep close tabs on a range of public agencies and officials to make sure that they execute their responsibilities in the correct way.

REASONS FOR GROWTH OF GOVERNMENT

The government is not a solitary thing that can be measured in terms of length or width or height. It contains numerous avenues and branches responsible for a myriad of tasks. The size of a government can transform into diverse dimensions, many of which are above perception. The reasons for growth of a particular government include:

  • Level of taxation
  • Government expenditure
  • Government employment

MODELS AND THEORIES OF POLITICS AND PUBLIC POLICY

In the whole policy process, policymaking is just a part. There are three models of public policy making. They are:

  • Institutional model- It centers on the conventional organization of government. The institutional model describes the functions and arrangements of government department. It reflects on constitutional provisions, governmental and common law, and judicial decisions.
  • Elite-Mass Model- A policy-making elite or highly privileged person acts in an atmosphere characterized by laziness and information misrepresentation, and govern a largely passive mass. The policies stream downwards from the elite to the mass.  The society is alienated into those who have power and those who do not. Those high in society and powerful share values that distinguish them from the mass. The prevailing public policies reflect elite values, which generally preserve the status quo. 
  • Group Model- This model of public policy results from a structure of forces and pressures acting on and reacting to one another. Usually, the model focuses on the legislature, but interest groups also pressure the executive. The groups they are meant to regulate may capture agencies, and bureaucrats become increasingly unable to differentiate between policies that will promote the good of the general public and policies that will benefit the groups being regulated.

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