Thursday, September 19, 2019
America The Unusual by John W Kingdon Essay -- John Kingdon America
America The Unusual by John W Kingdon The government of the United States of America is very unique. While many Americans complain about high taxes and Big Brother keeping too close an eye, the truth is that American government, compared to most foreign democracies, is very limited in power and scope. One area American government differs greatly from others is its scope of public policy. Americans desire limited public policy, a result of several components of American ideology, the most important being our desire for individuality and equal opportunity for all citizens. There are many possible explanations for the reason Americans think this way, including the personality of the immigrants who fled here, our physical isolation from other countries, and the diversity of the American population. The main ideal that keeps public policy in America extremely limited compared to other democracies is the desire for less government, a more limited government. The strong American beliefs in individualism and equality result in this desire for limited government, and thus limited public policy. American government programs are much less ambitious than those of other industrialized democratic nations. Programs in health, welfare, housing, transportaion, and many other areas are much smaller and less ambitious (Kingdon: 44). This is a direct result of the American desire for limited government. Americans don't want large programs in these areas because they more or less fear big government and believe it is inefficient and wasteful. Americans lean towards a desire for equal oppurtunity as opposed to equal results, and thus believe government should stay clear and let people either succeed or fail on their own. They believe that successful individuals are simply the ones who ac hieved more with the opportunities they were given, and that it's the job of the government to keep these opportunities equal for all, and not its job to see that everyone ends up successful. By taking the focus away from equality of results, America has become the victim of large income disparities as compared to other countries. In 1990, American households in the top decile of the income distribution had disposable incomes that were nearly six times greater than households in the bottom decile. Most other large industrialized countries showed upper incomes o... ...ass dominated and often owned most or all of the working class property (Kingdon: 69). These American workers, much more individual, were far less likely to favor a big government system where individual rights are sacrificed for a more balanced social structure. As far as Kingdon's argument that America needs more pragmatism to moderate the commitment to American ideals, I would agree that this would result in a government that better served all Americans. However, I don't think there is any possible way the United States can change the course it is on now. One problem that needs to be faced is the deterioration of the environment, and as Kingdon mentioned, increasing the gas tax would definitely cut down on the pollution. However, if a public official actually announced a new gas tax plan to cut down on emmissions, his political career would come to a crashing halt! Americans are too engrained with the ideal of individuality. Why should we care about how clean the air is when we have kids to feed and mortgages to pay? The focus is on the individual, not the community. Works Cited: Kingdon, John W. America The Unusual. Boston: Worth Publishers, Inc. 1999.