States as Policy Laboratories

 States as Policy Laboratories

The Size of Government

One of the most contentious issues that divide conservatives and liberals is the size of government. Conservatives often argue that government has bloated beyond any reasonable extent, while liberals frequently see a larger government role in society — thus requiring a larger federal bureaucracy.  Do you believe that the size of the federal bureaucracy has kept pace with the increasing demands on government?  Would Americans trade lower taxes for a much smaller federal government, even if there was a decrease in public services for ordinary citizens?  Are claims that the United States is burdened by “so-called” big government mistaken, or should government be enlarged to meet the expanding needs of a growing nation?  Respond to at least two of your classmates’ postings.

Reinventing Government

Former Vice President Al Gore launched a “reinventing government” initiative during the Clinton Administration that sought to streamline government procedures and processes, and also sought to reduce duplication in government personnel.  This is hardly a new concept, as almost every presidential administration has sought to discover more efficient ways of delivering government services.  What ways, if any, would you suggest to streamline the way government does business?  Would you outsource key government services?  Should government hire less?  Should pay be tied to performance in the public sector?  Or, on the contrary, do you think there needs to be a wholesale reinvention of the way government does business?  Feel free to be creative and to imagine ways you think government could be reinvented in the modern age.  Respond to at least two of your classmates’ postings.

The Role of Washington

The United States Constitution specifically delegates to the states any powers that are not enumerated to Washington. In practice, however, Washington has a vast number of tools it uses to influence state policy, often involving granting – or withholding – funding to the states for a variety of initiatives. Citing the text, provide a two to three paragraph response about your views of Federalism today. Do you believe that Washington has taken the lead in policy creation and implementation? Do you think that states are, in practice, beholden to Washington because of the funding that they depend upon from the central government? Or, on the contrary, do you think that the states maintain a great deal of power and autonomy in our Federalism system? Provide examples, when relevant, to support your analysis. Respond to at least two of your classmates’ postings.

States as Policy Laboratories

It has often been noted by scholars that the fifty states are policy laboratories that craft and implement public policies that are very specific and relevant to their state populations. In many cases, these experiments sometimes rise to the level of becoming a national policy because Congress will use them as model legislation. Describe any specific policies within your state that have been crafted in response to unique circumstances in your state. For example, Louisiana has fashioned many new policies involving emergency responsiveness since Hurricane Katrina, and California has many unique policies concerning the environment that are not found in other states. Provide a brief review of one policy in your state that you find interesting. Respond to at least two of your classmates’ postings.

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