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    Add as FriendWhat Government Does

    by: Rogers

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    1 : What Government Does Braunwarth POSC 121
    2 : Pre-Course Questions for Consideration Please write out an honest response for each of the following questions: When I think of U.S. Government, I think of… What do I personally hope to get out of this course? How do I think the study of U.S. Government will relate to my day to day life? If I were going to teach a course on U.S. Government, how would I structure it? What’s the best class I’ve ever had and why?
    3 : Introduction to U.S. Government and Politics Introduction: This is an entry level course that will survey a number of different aspects of Government and Politics in the U.S. U.S. Government: We will learn about both the structure and function of the U.S and, to a lesser extent, CA governments We’ll start with an examination of what government does and why
    4 : What Government Does We all have routines, take a few seconds and make a list what you do on a typical day Take a second look at your list: which of the items is completely under your control and which are influenced, in some way, by government?
    5 : Why Government? Why is government involved in these things? Government is simply the mechanism by which people collectively organize to provide things individuals can not provide for themselves Could a society function without a government? Whether you like it or not, government is necessary and affects many aspects of your life
    6 : Collective Action Problem Allows us to overcome “Collective Action Problems” We can provide things we can’t provide on our own by coordinating our actions Examples? Usually involves a cost to the individual People would prefer to be a “free rider” Government allows/forces us to act in concert, to achieve collective goals The Private depends on the Public
    7 : Classical Liberalism But we are highly influenced by the Classical Liberal Tradition (Hobbes, Locke, etc.) Individuals are rational and reasonable They have “natural” rights Therefore they deserve rights and liberties Sound familiar? Works well with democracy and capitalism Leads us to overemphasize the individual and underestimate their reliance on society
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    9 : Government or the Free Market What about the free market? Is there such a thing as the free market? What kind of restrictions are there on what can be traded? How about restrictions on who can participate in markets? Are we better or worse off with these and other restrictions?
    10 : Government or the Free Market What about restrictions on the ability of those with more money to finance political campaigns or pay for political advertising? Who benefits when regulations are removed? Free market boundaries are not objective but are politically determined Politics is about Power
    11 : What Government Does The preamble of our Constitution essentially lays out what the Framers wanted our government to do The Preamble
    12 : Establish Justice and Ensure Domestic Tranquility Police powers to Provide Order Monopolization of Violence Protect Property Set the rules that allow commerce to flourish (enforce contracts, punish fraud, etc.) Why would we want financial markets to be LESS efficient? Socialize citizens
    13 : Provide for the Common Defense The global society has no government to establish justice Subsequently all governments have an interest in protecting themselves
    14 : Promote the General Welfare Provide “Public Goods” Things that everyone can share Therefore there is no possibility for profit so if they are to be provided, it must be by government Creates a Free Rider Problem (enjoy the benefits without paying the costs) Can you think of any examples? National defense, lighthouse, the reduction of “negative externalities” such as air and water pollution
    15 : Promote the General Welfare Government also provides a number of services that could be, and often are, provided by the private sector Like what? Education, libraries, fire protection, medicare, social security, etc. Why? Isn’t it enough to have equality of opportunity? Are we going to achieve better outcomes if we leave success solely up to individual competition?
    16 : Right to Die What should we do if a 30 year-old man, who decided not to buy health insurance, found himself in need of six months of intensive care? Would it make a difference if he had tried to buy insurance but either couldn’t afford it or was denied because of a pre-existing condition? Should society, through government, try to mitigate some of the “common hazards of life”? What about compassion?
    17 : Equality and Freedom Positive Freedom: Having the power and resources to fulfill one’s potential Equality requires government action to provide equal opportunities or to remove limitations to political or economic action Examples? Why provide these services? Allows everyone the opportunity to succeed even in the face of tragedy or bad luck
    18 : Equality and Freedom Negative Freedom: absence of restraint Equality can be best achieved by government getting involved as little as possible, especially in the marketplace Why would a strong welfare state increase social mobility and make people more open to change?
    19 : Secure the Blessings of Liberty What kind of liberties do we have? Freedom of speech, press, assembly, etc. From whom do we need to be protected? Ironically, one key function of government is to protect us from itself
    20 : Politics Taken to the extreme, some of the functions of government mentioned above come into conflict with each other. For instance, we can’t have maximum amounts of both liberty and public services. We need to contribute taxes to bring about things we can’t achieve on our own Critics of government argue that the free market will provide what we need more efficiently without government How and why does the government currently interfere in the free market?
    21 : Politics While we can all agree the preceding items are necessary We disagree about how much of each of these we need or whom should provide them (national, state, local) Politics is the competition to influence public policy “who gets what, when, and how” Is our democracy more pluralism (governing through competing groups) or elitism (governing by elites)
    22 : Power of the Market How has the relation between government and the market has shifted over the last few decades? Growth of corporate capitalism Declining influence of government as a countervailing forces Decline of civic institutions What is Civil Society? Voluntary civic and social organizations? What has happened to these and why?
    23 : Politics Class Question: Would we be better off with more material goods and less leisure time or fewer material goods with more leisure time? Assume a level of income beyond the provision of basic necessities Does it matter whether we like working longer hours? How does this tradeoff rest on government policy?

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