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POL203Y1 (58)
Ryan Hurl (41)

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Political Science
Ryan Hurl

September 13 Canada vs American politics (prizefight vs bullfight, etc.) What makes American politics interesting? - Deep and conflicting visions make stakes higher - Form of gov’t formed after WWII is at a tipping point - Sustaining welfare state, growth, employment - USA government spending as % of GDP is less than OECD average (although increasing – Obama) - Example of American ‘exceptionalism’ - Welfare State - Current form of welfare state: Take advantage of dynamism of capitalist system, while mending inequalities (a bit of both) - This system is experiencing problems - American welfare state not easily compared to others - Crisis of welfare state: unsustainable trajectory of gov’t spending vs. tax revenue - Root of crisis: social security - Social security began during a time with a young population. Demographic pattern was assumed to remain unchanged. - There’s a sense that radical changes must be made - The system seems to be corrupted - On Political Science - Started adopting ‘regular’ scientific techniques in order to become more effective (attempt to achieve certainty) - Scientific methods also have their limits - Human beings have ability to dispute political rule, definitions of justice/injustice, etc. (Aristotle – humans are, by nature, political) - How democratic is the US? (Question that motivates most American political scientists) - Ties in with the fundamental question: Who rules? (Less so: Who should rule?) - Politics can be explained by the involvement of: Interests, Institutions, and/or Ideas - For this course, the role of institutions is paramount - Definition of Institution: simply, the rules of the game. - Separation of powers – in some sense, this creates a butterfly effect. The separation of powers shapes policy-making process, role of money in elections, etc. - On Political Culture - General beliefs held among civilians on the ways in which they should be governed - American political culture constituted by conflict (bar fight) - Three possible sources of political culture: 1. Political Theory - Not really effective in a real way. Things start to change when the moderns arrive. 2. Historical Experience - Dating back to England: the early settlers brought these English traditions with them 3. Religion - E.g. evangelical Christians - On Traditions (that have effected American Political Culture) - Liberalism (in a Classical sense) - Emphasizes both the need and limited purposes of government - Equality (in a formal sense) - Locke claimed that human beings are equal. He used concept of state of nature to illustrate this. No person has right to rule another by nature. - Natural Rights and Property - No natural political hierarchy leads to natural rights. Purpose of government is limited to preservation of life, liberty, and property (Locke). - The crucial right is that humans have right to acquire property through labour (Locke). - The prime purpose is to protect the separate, and unequal, factors (?) of individuals - Popular Consent and the Right of Revolution
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