Political Agents and Public Policy Written Answers

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Public Policy Making

It has been said that ideas allow political agents to reduce uncertainty, propose a particular solution to a crisis, and empower agents to resolve crises by constructing new institutions in line with these new ideas. While this statement helps to explain big changes in public policy, there are both strengths and limitations to it. In order to have a better understanding of how ideas are formed that can affect public policy, it is necessary to address how that policy changes and what kinds of ideas are generally considered for laws and regulations. Where those ideas come from and what they have to offer matters a great deal, as well as how those ideas will be received by the public and whether there are serious considerations that might damage the political life of an agent putting forth the ideas. Of course, not all ideas make it to law, or even to the ears of the citizens.

Some of the ideas are used as springboards for other ideas, and those eventually become plans to reduce uncertainty, propose solutions to crises, and employ agents to find ways to resolve crises that have either already occurred or may occur in the future. Not every idea that an agent comes across is used for a law or regulation, either. Some are held until they are needed at a later date, or until there is reason to use them. Some do not move forward at all, and are discarded because they are not viable or not workable based on money, time, or public opinion. When creating public policy, there are many factors to consider, and the right ideas at the right time are of the utmost importance to those who will have to learn about and abide by the new policies.

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Explanations for Public Policy Changes

PhD Model Answer on Political Agents and Public Policy-Making Assignment

There are many different reasons why public policy changes. The ideas that are brought to the table are one of the main factors, but knowing where those ideas come from and how they are created and utilized is something that many people do not take the time to think about. The majority of citizens may not even completely understand the issue of public policy and how much value it brings to society (Audretsch, Gilbert, & McDougall, 2004). However, there is a needed structure to how the government operates, both on large and small levels. It is also very important to make sure that the rights of citizens are protected and the responsibilities of those citizens are enforced (Audretsch, Grilo, & Thurik, 2007; Sharma & Sharma, 2000). Public policy handles all of those things, and ensures that things operate smoothly. However, that does not mean that public policy is always the same or that there is no need for change. As policy is enforced, there are discrepancies between one policy and another, and there are difficulties with various policies, too (Blyth, 2002; Boix, 2003).

Many policies sound good on paper, and should work well in theory, but they do not work well in practice (Kingdon, 1994; Losco, 2010). When that becomes a problem, the policies have to be changed. Sometimes, lawmakers will work to enact change (Cohen, 2012). Other times, citizens who are being affected by the policies must enact their own changes through the re-election or non-election of politicians in order to see laws repealed or changed (Cohen, 2012). This is not always easy, and it can take a lot of time for real changes to be made. Still, coming up with new and creative ideas is one of the ways that public policy gets changed. People find that they are not happy with the status quo, so they seek to make changes that will make life better for everyone involved (Newton & Van Deth, 2005). Often they are thinking of themselves, but they also spend time thinking of others and what is needed to ensure that other people are cared for properly. While it is often argued that political agents do not care about those they represent, this is generally not the case.

For example, when a political agent sees that a policy is not working for a large group of citizens, it is prudent that the political agent focuses on ways that the policy can be changed (Schmidt, Bardes, & Shelley, 2011). This can be difficult, because there are going to be people who prefer the policy the way it is and who are benefitting from it without changes. Changing the policy will cause benefits to some, but can also cause others to lose the benefits they already have (Audretsch, Gilbert, & McDougall, 2004; Sharma & Sharma, 2000). Naturally, this is an issue that is difficult to resolve and on which there are many disagreements. The majority vs. The minority is also a public policy concern, because the minority groups in a community may feel as though they are being discriminated against, and that the public policies that are enforced in a community are only benefitting the majority (Kingdon, 1994; Sharma & Sharma, 2000). Whether that is true or only a misperception depends on the law and the groups, of course. Some public policies have been changed when they have been clearly shown to harm the minority groups in a community, but most laws evolve more slowly and are not changed from one law to another rapidly.

Strengths of Public Policy Ideas

Coming up with ideas for public policy is not complex, but getting those ideas from the initial stage to an actual policy can be difficult (Schmidt, Bardes, & Shelley, 2011). It is not just the "red tape" that the idea must go through and the approval that is needed, but the quality of the idea itself that has to be addressed. In other words, public policy ideas can have problems that have to be addressed before they can move forward. However, there are many strengths to them, as well. For example, when someone comes up with an idea for a change to (or creation of) a public policy, the main reason is usually a desire to help others. Public policy that is focused on providing something of value for the less fortunate is highly significant, and can be very important. In order to try to get these policies created and utilized, a cause is needed (Audretsch, Gilbert, & McDougall, 2004; Losco, 2010).

People have to be able to relate to the issue and see why the policy would make a difference (Boix, 2003). If there is a public policy idea that can provide that kind of information and emotion to citizens, it is generally a strong one. That does not mean that having that kind of strength is enough, however. There is more to the issue than that, and there is much more to creating a policy than just finding people who think it is a good idea (Audretsch, Gilbert, & McDougall, 2004). For every person in a community that thinks an idea is a good one, there will be a person who does not think the idea has merit, or who thinks it will be a problem instead of a solution. Because of that, an idea must be strong and must be able to sway a majority of voters who can determine if the idea should become public policy. Tactics used to do that vary, too, and some are nicer than others (Audretsch, Gilbert, & McDougall, 2004; Audretsch, Grilo, & Thurik, 2007).

If the policy is a strong one, the tactics used may not matter as much as the changes the actual policy will make. The problem comes in when the policy is weak but a group is trying to push the policy through for their own agenda. When that is the plan, the policy often fails because of the manner in which it is designed (Sharma & Sharma, 2000). Public policies that are strong will generally prevail, however, because they offer real change and value for a large number of people in the community (Cohen, 2012). Ideas that have merit are often focused on public programs to help underprivileged groups like the elderly and the impoverished, along with children. That is not to say there are no other problems in the community, but only that certain groups have stronger public policies geared toward them because they are traditionally the groups that struggle (Audretsch, Gilbert, & McDougall, 2004). Minorities are often included in new public policy ideas for that same reason. Some politicians only want to make themselves look good by making it appear that they are helping others, but many are dedicated to taking the ideas of the community and turning them into opportunities to provide new and better policies to everyone.

Limitations of Public Policy Ideas

Ideas that are designed to offer help and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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