Public Policy And Public Policies

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Public Policy
Public policy is described by Peters (as cited in Shaw & Eichbaum, 2008) as guiding the actions of a government and taking into account the effects of that action or in-action on the lives of people in the community. Dye (as cited in Shaw and Eichbaum, 2008) defines policy as “whatever governments choose to do or not to do”. Shaw and Eichbaum (2008) go on to say that public policy is the most obvious way in which government politics can affect the lives of people. As an example, Shaw and Eichbaum use the interest free loan scheme put into place by the Labour government in 2006.

‘Decision moments’ are often present in public policy. At each ‘decision moment’, the government is faced with a choice to take action or not. The policy of the interest free loan scheme demonstrates three decisions – firstly to review the existing policy, secondly to change the policy and thirdly to introduce the new policy. (Shaw & Eichbaum, 2008).

Public policy can often be complex as it is driven by a number of diverse influences and can end up being a contest of differing ideas and opinion. Some of the influences on public policy as described by Shaw and Eichbaum (2008) are the role a government (and those who make up the government) play in the economy, the values that people from varying backgrounds have and what resources are involved.

Public policy is usually made to achieve a certain aim. This aim can be expressed positively, or negatively. Shaw and Eichbaum (2008) use examples of economic growth as a positive, and reducing child abuse as a negative. Whether a positive aim or negative aim, the end goal is to bring about betterment for the country as a whole.

Majone (1989) has a different view to Shaw and Eichbaum as to the reas...

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...1) describes the importance of the ‘precautionary principle’ in policy analysis where prevention is seen as being better than a cure. This is demonstrated by a number of policies including the Bergen Declaration (ECE), Rio Declaration and “Maastricht Treaty” where measures must be taken to avoid any environmental degradation. When used in policy analysis, the precautionary principle allows for analysts to move away from reactive policies that attempt to undo damage that has already occurred to the environment, towards a more sustainable system of preventing the damage occurring in the first place.

I believe that policy analysis is necessary to solve environmental problems as it gives a better understanding of the issue, implications of the issue, history of the issue, parties involved, the end goal and ways in which goal achievement can be measured.

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