A Critique On Cases In Public Policy Analysis

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Public policy is the invisible string that connects every aspect of society. In a person’s daily life, he seldom contemplates the interconnectivity of societal constructions and public policy, as well as how public policy maintains an overarching control on the way society functions. Policies and more specifically, public policies are the “systems of rules and standards that affect the public interest and are established by rulemaking bodies such as parliaments, legislatures, and administrative regulatory agencies.” (Guess and Farnham, 7) These rules and standards govern every aspect of a person’s life. From the temperature of coffee being served to the systems of dispensing fuel, from the rules of the road to insurance policies, one cannot function in society without being explicitly or implicitly controlled and regulated by public policy. Although people have the belief that this correlation can be ignored, and it is often ignored, due to the idea that it is difficult to understand and influence, the better option is to rather understand how these public policies are created and implemented and the impact that they will have on someone’s life. Cases in Public Policy Analysis, by George Guess and Paul Farnham, aims to explain and understand the public policy process through textual explanations and real-life examples of public policy cases. In order to understand this process as a whole, or at least try to, one must dissect the “whole process” and examine the smaller components that make up the entirety of public policy.
Cases in Public Policy Analysis examines this process by doing just that, separating the process into seven distinct parts that all interact with each other, but are also separate entities within itself. Determining how these separate parts interact with each other is imperative to beginning to understand the public policy making process. Although with advances in technology and with advances and changes in public opinion actual public policy can change, the method or process for which these policies are created stays relatively the same. Guess and Farnham separate and order the chapters in a manner that resembles that of a succession up a flight of stairs. To go from the first to the third step, one needs the step in between. It takes the use of all of and the combination of all the steps in order to get to the top, or metaphorically the understanding of the system.
In reading this book, it is important to recognize the information Guess and Farnham discuss in the preface. Both authors discuss the purpose that the book has, that it provides an “important institutional and political dimension in applying economic methods to policy problems.” (Guess and Farnham, vii) This is important to recognize because the authors are expressly stating that the motivation behind the book and the expertise behind the arguments are those of both political scientists and economists. This is not a book written by someone on the outside of the...

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