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Chapter 1

Intro to US Gov & Pol [COMPLETE NOTES] Chapter 1 -- I 4.0ed this course

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Political Science
PS 101
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PS 101 Chapter 1: UnderstandingAmerican Politics (pg 3-25) Textbook Notes I. Introduction II. Why Do We Have a Government? A. To Provide Order 1. Definitions a. Government: The system for implementing decisions made through the political process b. Factions: Groups of like-minded people who try to influence the government.American government is set up to avoid domination by any one of these groups. c. Separation of Powers: The division of government power across the judicial, executive, and legislative branches. d. Checks and balances:A system in which each branch of government has some power over the others. B. To Promote General Welfare 1. Definitions a. Public Goods: Services or actions (such as protecting the environment) that, once provided to one person becomes available to everyone. Government is typically needed to provide public goods because they will be under-produced by the free market. b. CollectiveAction Problem:Asituation in which the members of a group would benefit by working together to produce some outcome, but each individual is better off refusing cooperate and reaping benefits from those who do the work. c. Positive Externalities: Benefits created by a public good that are shared by the primary consumer of the goof and by society more generally. d. Free Rider Problem: The incentive to benefit from others’ work without making a contribution, which leads individuals in a collective action situation to refuse to work together. III. What is Politics? -Politics is the process that determines what government does. A. Key Idea 1: Politics is Conflictual B. Key Idea 2: Political Process Matters C. Key Idea 3: Politics is Everywhere IV. Sources of Conflict inAmerican Politics A. Economic Interests 1. Definitions a. Free Market:An economic system based on competition among businesses without government interference b. Economic Individualism: The autonomy of individuals to manage their own financial decisions without government interference. c. Redistributive Tax Policies: Policies, generally favored by Democratic politicians, that use taxation to attempt to create greater social equality(i.e higher taxation of the rich to provide programs for the poor) B. Cultural Values 1. Definitions a. Culture Wars: Political conflict in the United States between “red-state”Americans, who tend to have strong religious beliefs, and “blue-state”Americans, who tend to be more secular. b. Melting Pot: The idea that as different racial and ethnic groups come toAmerica, they should assimilate into American culture, leaving their native languages, customs and traditions behind. C. Identity Politics D. Ideology 1. Definitions a. Ideology: Acohesive set of ideas and beliefs used to organize and evaluate the political world. b. Conservative: One side of the ideological spectrum defined by support for lower taxes, a free market, and a more limited government; generally associated with Democrats. c. Libertarians: Those who prefer very limited government and therefore tend to be conservative on issues such as welfare policy, environmental policy, and public support for education, but liberal on issues of personal liberty such as free speech, abortion, and legalization of drugs. V. Conclusion Lecture/Discussion Notes I. Lecture 2-Why Government? (Wednesday, January 16, 2013) A. What is Government? (Definitions) 1. Bianco and Canon’s Definition a. The system for implementing decisions made through the political process.” b. Both the institutions and the process itself 2. Some Other Definitions a. “The legitimate use of force to control human behavior… [and] the organization or agency authorized to exercise that force.” b. “The body of people and institutions that make and enforce laws for a society.” 1. All Societies have government and it appears to be natural with fundamental tensions 2. Government’s exisisitance means infringement upon individual rights and freedoms. B. The Nature of Government 1. Government and the individual a. being governedALWAYS means giving up some individual choice and freedom 2. Why do people submit to government? a. Thomas Hobbes’state of nature 1. Life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” b. We submit to government because we are getting something in return(protections) C. Principal Purposes of Government 1. Maintaining order a. To protect life (Hobbes) and property (Locke) b. Reflected in Declaration of Independence 1. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” i. Pursuit of Happiness reflects property c. Narrower view: Protection of life and property d. Broader view: Includes social order 1. Established patterns of authority in society and traditional modes of behavior e. When does controversy occur? 1. Traditional ways versus Modern ways. When views come up against other things. i. Preservation of Social Order vs. Equality 2. Providing public goods a. Promoting the general welfare b. Goods that benefit all individuals but are not likely to be produced by the voluntary acts of individuals 1. Examples: Street Lights, Parks(National or City), Military, Public Works(Police, Fire), U of I c. Public vs. Private Goods 1. In contrast to private goods…Public goods are indivisible and cannot be satisfactorily provided by the market or private initiatives i. Cannot be allocated to circumstances or certain groups of people 2. Provision of public goods requires cooperation or coercion by collective action or effective government(Funded by taxes paid by the people) d. The “Free Rider Problem” 1. Individuals can receive the benefit from a collective activity/public good whether or not they helped to pay for it, leaving them with no incentive to contribute. 2. Assumption that people want a clean kitchen. You get to enjoy the benefit of a clean kitchen, whether or not you clean it. So what’s the point of cleaning it if you know your roommate will? Then everyone gets frustrated over no help. No one clean the kitchen and everybody suffers. If we aggregate this up… e. The Case of CleanAir 1. Why is this a public good? i. Everybody benefits from it, for breathing. 2. Why might it be difficult to provide? i. We cannot gage our individual contribution 3. What sorts of policies might government use to: i. Provide sanctions: Fines by ii. Provide incentives: Tax Deductions iii. Cap and Trade: companies over a certain size, have a certain amount that they can pollute the environment. They have credits and can either purchase more form the government, in which they can use that money to prevent the pollution. Or companies can trade with other companies and therefore keep the same amount of predicted pollution with the environment. 3. Promoting equality a. Arelative latecomer to idea about the purposes of government b. Types 1. Political i. One person, one vote, equal access to office ii. Aformal/procedural definition 2. Social(More Controversial) i. Equality in wealth, education, status, etc. ii. Asubstantive definition iii. How far do you go? 3. The Big Question: If we agree that equality is something government should promote, what course of action should it take? i. Insure equality of opportunity? ii. Insure equality of outcome? D. Points of Contention? 1. (Almost) everyone agrees about these goals/values in the abstract a. No we don’t want government to provide order, structure(that would be absurd) 2. Disagree about how far government should go in providing them a. Individual freedom vs. well-being of all 3. What do we do when they conflict? a. Prioritizing what ideologies 4. Ideologies reflect a set of coherent views on these matters E. Ideology 1. Definitions a. Aconsistent set of values and beliefs about the proper purpose and scope of government b. Aset of ideas about what makes a good society and how to go about constructing it 2. Components of an Ideology a. Values: What is most important? What should gov’t prioritize? b. Vision of the Ideal Polity (Political System): What would gov’t look like if organized the “best” way? c. AConception of Human Nature: Basically good or bad? Rational or irrational? d. Strategies and Tactics forAction: How should goals be accomplished? What are the acceptable bounds of action? 3. Comparing Ideologies(The “spectrum” approach) a. Two major dimensions 1. Role of government in terms of individual’s private
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