Public Policy Course Session 17
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Transcript of Public Policy Course Session 17
Public Policy Course Session 17
Public Policy Course Session 17The History of almost anything..October 1, 2010
Definition of HistoryHistory (from Greek - historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the human past. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians. It is a field of research which uses a narrative to examine and analyse the sequence of events. wikipedia
Most Famous Quote about HistoryProgress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.Georges Santayana- The Life of Reason 1905-6When there is no good explanation for somethingMany things do not have a good reason for being in the present There may be no current rationale for a policy But all policy has a history This makes history very important When there is no good explanation.History shows us all the unintended consequences of successful but ESPECIALLY.failed policiesThe original intentWhat got in the way And those policies that continue to get waylaid (e.g. childcare, reduction of greenhouse gases)
Arnold ToynbeeHistory is . not just one damn thing after another.America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room. Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair. History teaches us that when a barbarian race confronts a sleeping culture, the barbarian always wins.It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.
History has a constituencyIn any presentation of a position, a stance, an ask, there will always be those who will want to know why what is in place now should be changed They will not want it changed until they know how the world got to where it is now.Original intent side-tracked is a persuasive narrative for many a good jumping off point.
Where did this come from?History is part of a good narrativeMany want to know where things came fromHow many times have you heard: Where did that policy come from? and the answer was . I dont knowIts important never to be caught not knowing the history of an issueWhat was the reason the existing policy is in place? never be caught out.Will Rogers vs. Colin PowellWill Rogers famous dictumIf it aint broke, dont fix itColin Powells rebuke:If it ain't broke, don't fix it' is the slogan of the complacent, the arrogant or the scared. It's an excuse for inaction.The gun registry debate used both sides of its history in the discussion.Revisionist HistoryWhat scholars call revisionist history, or the re-writing of history, can uncover bias and assumptions of racial superiority, and it can as well make all European explorers and missionaries into imperialists and capitalists, whether they were or not. Freedom from bias of any type may be impossible to achieve in historical reconstruction. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/HistoryHistory is always being re-written. Is it legitimate or only an ideological school? E.g. The tea-party movementThe case for Multi-vocality as the only legitimate history Dialectical HistoryThesis: a position Antithesis: the negationSynthesis: the negation of the negationSocrates, Kant, Hegel, MarxDialectics is often how we think history proceeds accroding to the progression/regression of rational thought
Policy Uses of HistoryPart of a compelling story The act of grounding a position The act of joining the debateThe act of keeping us from going backwardWho is best able to keep us going forward?How can we keep from going backward?Policy Uses of History: An Example Two historical examples of economic progress fight for our attention:The stimulus paradigmThe restraint paradigm
How do they make their point?How do they get history on their side?
Smackdown Battle of the Alpha Paradigms The Alpha Paradigms and their elementsElementThe Stimulus Paradigm: Borrow, Tax, Spend, InvestMarket as King, personal freedom Paradigm: Reduce and restrain TaxesMaintain or increase for services, infrastructure. investments, community Reduce taxes at any point, at any level relentlessly or taxes will; creep up on you and pay for things not in your interest Legitimacy of Taxes Fundamentally legitimate:- how we live and surviveFundamentally Illegitimate and suspect: - how we weaken our citizenry Government A reflection of the public good as a nation, provinces, cities and communities Only in place for our protection against crime, natural disaster, and to protect our borders against bad people, bad events and bad nations Families Strengthen the family through infrastructure, social security and civil protections Leave families to grow through less taxation and regulation. Allow them to flourish with the minimum level of outside intervention. IndividualsSupport individuals through civil protectionsIndividual freedom through fewer regulations, less red tape, lower taxes, greater competition Inequality An ongoing and pervasive concern - the worry that those at the top have too much, much more than they needThe natural state of the world - a positive because those who do well are in a position to help those who do not thrive - not a fundamental concern The EconomyProsperity through investment, taxation and responsible government through investmentProsperity only through lower taxation, measured deregulation, private sector spending and investmentEnvironment Green energy and alternatives. carbon restraint Drill baby drill - state to protect against spills and harmPoverty An important concern, a need to resolve through investment, income and social security, strategic interventions An individual deficit that it is important that the individual overcome on their own with as little help as possible. Also a place for charity for the helpless. Crime Important to do what is effective - deterrence and rehab important If you do the crime, you do the time ...Protection and punishment most important FuturePositive on investment Positive only if less taxes, private sector growthYouthAn investment - the world could be okOnly good future is with less tax, less government, otherwise negative Growth Necessary but judicious Only if achieved through less government and private sector growth Smackdown Verdict Wins on fear of recession , loses in normal life Loses on fear of recession ,Wins in everyday life The Direction of History: The Myth of ProgressMany thinkers maintain that the totality of human history, in spite of apparent arbitrariness, possesses a large organizing theme, meaning, or direction. Efforts to find meaning or direction in history have been criticized by thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, and Gilles DeleuzeThey claim that it is a grave mistake to look for meaning where none can exist, because history is best characterized by discontinuities, ruptures, and various time-scales
Where are we headed?One policy use of history is to say that failure to act or failure to preserve will take us down a dark road i.e. we wont progress or we will regress.The Nature frame: Lamarck vs. Charles Darwin The civilization frame: e.g. Greece, RomeThe environment frame: destroying the planetChichen Itza and TulumMayan civilizations rose, flourished, declined and died out How is decline intelligible? Conquer and defeat The failure of military The seeds of decline within?
The Civilization life cycle as policy metaphorThe retrospective comparative: this is the device where the advocate articulates what happened when we went down this road beforeThe Future retrospective comparative: This is the device where the advocate articulates from a theoretical future point and looks back at the present: Twenty years from now, we will look back and regret/rejoice this moment
The redemptive value of history"But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary convenience of the present." Ronald Reagan, inaugural presidential address, 1981The future retrospective narrative device is best used by.?
Setting the Record StraightThe record is importantBut what is the record?Is it history?Who does the record well?When do facts matter?When are facts (and records) irrelevant?