America The Unusuak And Wrong Different people from all different walks of life founded America. Many of these people came to America as now know it, for many reason. One of these reasons being that they felt their government was corrupt, harsh, unfair or just to powerful in there every day lives. So naturally when America created its government, it was created in such a way, to prevent tyranny, high taxation, and ensure personal freedoms. Author John W. Kingdon feels that the government the founders created is so fragmented and our ideology of individualism and anti-government (small government) is now causing more harms then good.
What do you think? Do you feel that the U.S. Government is so separated it has a hard time getting anything done? I do, and in this essay I will support Kingdons argument by providing information and evidence to show that the U.S. institutions in place today have to high of values on the rights of individual and small government. So lets begin by looking at the differences between U.S. government and the governments of other countries.
We first need to look at the institutions of the U.S. and the institutions of other industrialized countries. America institutions believe very heavily in a system of separation of powers. This is where we separate the national government into three different branches, the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The constitution with practices that have been adopted since the constitution, have created a form of independence for each of the national government branches of power. The members of each of these branches are selected differently.
The president (executive branch) is elected to a four-year term and can only run for president in two consecutive terms. Popular vote and a vote of the Electoral College elect the president. The members of the House of Representatives (legislative branch) have a two-year term by popular vote from districts of equal population. The Senate (legislative branch) is elected for a six-year term by a popular vote statewide. The judiciary (judicial branch) is appointed for life by the president with Senate approval. One reason that makes these three branches independent from each other, is the U.S. system of checks and balances.
With checks and balances each branch can put a check on another branch to maintain a balance of power, so that one branch can not be more powerful then any of the other branches. For example the president can veto acts of congress, the judiciary can interpret and overturn acts of congress, and congress can check the executive branch by using its power of purse. Most Americans already knows how the U.S. system of government works, so now lets look at the governments of other representative democracies. Just about all-representative democracies use some version of a parliamentary government. In the traditional parliamentary system, there is no separation of powers. In the U.S.
we have a president, in parliamentary government their head of state is called the Prime Minister or premier. The Prime Minister is the leader of the majority in parliament. If one party controls the parliamentary majority, then the leader of that party becomes the Prime Minister. If that were the case in the U.S., Newt Gingrich would be our president. The Prime Minister has no set term limit. The parliament can choose to get rid of the Prime Minister and his cabinet, and the Prime Minister can dissolve parliament and call new elections.
There are no real checks and balances in parliamentary government, although more modernized countries like France have started adopting a checks and balances in combination with their parliamentary government. Another thing to point out is fragmentation of U.S. government. U.S. government is fragmented enough by the separation of powers, we then take it a step further by separating power at the national and state level. This makes the coordination of action in the U.S.
difficult and lengthy, where as in parliamentary government power is not so divide making coordination action much quicker. There is another big difference between U.S. government and that of other countries. We have discussed a little about the U.S. being a small government where as other countries as being big government. With small government, the government is less involved in social and economic aspects of our daily lives, and big governments are more directly involved in every day life.
Lets look at public policy and the difference between the U.S. (small) government and other countries (big) government. In other industrialized countries the entire population is cover by health insurance (Kingdon 16), where in the U.S. the population is not covered under a universal health care plan. Transportation in other industrialized countries is largely sponsored by government, such as airline railways, buses and other modes of government transportation. In the U.S. there are very few government sponsored transportation.
Also mass transit is more completely developed in big cites in other countries than it is in U.S. cities (Kingdon 16). There is also more government programs for welfare and housing too in other countries. The one exception for other countries is public education. In other countries there are not as many universities, colleges and trade school as in the U.S.
The major contributor for other countries public policy funds is taxes. Other countries citizens pay more taxes and have larger public sections then private sectors than the U.S. It almost seems that just from stating the facts about the differences between the U.S. and other industrialized countries governments, my argument and the argument John W. Kingdon is nothing but correct. Still there is much more that needs to be looked at first. Lets start by looking at the fragmentation that exists in the USs (small) government and why its not very good.
Do you remember a few years ago when our government shut down? I remembered but I didnt know how serious it really was. With the separation of powers its possible for one party to control the executive branch and another party to control the legislative branch. When this happens there can be a lot of dead lock on issues in government. Like in 1995 1996 when Newt Gingrich the new speaker of the house and Republican Party leader in congress battled heads with re-elected Democrat president Bill Clinton. When the 104th congress arrived in Washington in January 1995, few inside the beltway knew what to expect.
Republicans held control of both chambers of congress for the first time in 40 years and the house was infused with a freshman class more ideologically conservative than the rest of the body (Drew 12). With republicans holding congress and a democratic president, neither side wanted to give way to the other. Clinton would veto ever congress threw at him, and congress used there power of purse over Clinton. Because of this turmoil House Speaker Newt Gingrich and President Clinton was so great it created the longest most disruptive federal government shut down ever (Drew 13). Now I know the founders ideas were to keep government from being to powerful and to big, but Im sure they did not intend for it to be so weak and small to have a shut down of that proportion.
Its obvious to me and probably to other people besides Kingdon that we have divided government up so much and its so fragmented it can no longer work as a cohesive unit again. The other main issue that Kingdon points out is that of public policy. I believe that public policies are much better than that of the U.S. There are a couple of reasons for that. First of all Americans do not liked to be taxed, even when those taxes are used to strengthen our nation (Lipset 138). When Americans were polled in 1988 it showed back then that 61% of Americans preferred a health system like Canadas over the U.S.
and 95% of Canadians polled preferred their health system then the USs (Lipset 138). Since the U.S. is a firm believer in small government, we would never create a large government institution like that because it would increase government influence in everyday life. In this case I feel that government is over emphasizing small government at the expense of the community. Wouldnt health care for all Americans be ideal? What about other public polices like welfare and housing. The government could create programs to build government housing for people with low income and for the thousands of homeless people, like they do in other countries, but once again the U.S.
prefers small government and one that is not to powerful. Because individualism is so highly valued in America we are unwilling to give of our selves for the better good of the nation. We are unwilling to have higher taxation for the better good of the nation and the government would not be willing to create public policy change for the fear of big government. There are many things that the U.S. should change. We should incur larger taxes on things like gasoline and energy to conserve its use and to repair the damage that the use of this energy has caused.
There is a major problem with the distribution of wealth in the U.S., so wouldnt it be logical for the government to help this wealth distribution by creating programs to lessen the cost of living for the poor by providing housing and health care. And wouldnt also be logical to provide more public transportation to solve problems of traffic and pollution. Its all very logical and ideal, yet we are unwilling to do anything about it because of our ideology and are institutions in place. It seems to me that issues of health care, pollution, social security, welfare and transportation are of major concern of late. People are screaming for these issues to be created and funded, yet we are unwilling to pay for them and government is unwilling to create such huge programs and institutions to solve the problems.
Is our ideology so screwed up that we wouldnt trade higher taxes for a better and stronger nation? It is, I dont see the light at the end of the tunnel, just like Kingdon and many other people. We feel that government is unable to work in a way that could solve our nations top concerns. When our government is failing its people, our government should be looking at the examples of other nation to improve our own. Americas government is definitely like no other government ever created, no other nations put the rights of the individual so high as to weaken there country. From all that I have seen so far Americas ideology and institutions once served as useful tools to shape this nation, but it no longer serves the people well and something needs to change.
Bibliography Drew, Elizabeth, 1996. Showdown: The Struggle Between the Gingrich Congress and the Clinton White House. (Simon & Schuster) Kingdon, John W., 1999. America the Unusual. (Bedford) Lipset, Seymour Martin, 1990.
Continental Divide: The Values and Institution of the United States and Canada. (Routledge) AMERICA THE UNUSUAL AND WRONG GOVN. 001 Bibliography Drew, Elizabeth, 1996. Showdown: The Struggle Between the Gingrich Congress and the Clinton White House. (Simon & Schuster) Kingdon, John W., 1999. America the Unusual.
(Bedford) Lipset, Seymour Martin, 1990. Continental Divide: The Values and Institution of the United States and Canada. (Routledge).