Politics

Obesity, Courts, and the New Politics of Public Health

Obesity, Courts, and the New Politics of Public Health
Journal of Health Politics, Policy, & Law 2005, Volume 30 Issue 5.

Kersh, R.
01/01/2005

Health care politics are changing. They increasingly focus not on avowedly public projects (such as building the health care infrastructure) but on regulating private behavior. Examples include tobacco, obesity, abortion, drug abuse, the right to die, and even a patient's relationship with his or her managed care organization. Regulating private behavior introduces a distinctive policy process; it alters the way we introduce (or frame) political issues and shifts many important decisions from the legislatures to the courts. In this article, we illustrate the politics of private regulation by following a dramatic case, obesity, through the political process. We describe how obesity evolved from a private matter to a political issue. We then assess how different political institutions have responded and conclude that courts will continue to take the leading role.

Rethinking Periodization? APD & the Macro-History of the United States

Rethinking Periodization? APD & the Macro-History of the United States
Polity 2005, Volume 37, Number 4.

Kersh, R.
01/01/2005

Dividing American history into discrete periods dates to the first European colonists in North America, several of whom variously declared their region or colony to represent a "new beginning" a "new land of Canaan," a New England, and so forth: "in the New World is born a new history," as one early sermonizer had it. (1) Soon thereafter clerics and political leaders (often the same people) lamented their fellows' fall from grace; the dichotomy of golden age and descent into depravity, of Awakening and backsliding, has been an American motif ever since. Eventually, the sweep of U.S. history was sorted on a chronological, rather than theological or eschatological, basis. For well over a century political historians have in the main hewn to a familiar temporal script.

The European Union through an American Prism

The European Union through an American Prism
The State of the European Union, Vol. 7: With US or Against US? Edited by Nicolas Jabko & Craig Parsons. Oxford University Press.

Kersh, R.
01/01/2005

The USA is deeply implicated in European dreams of a more perfect union. This chapter investigates three aspects of the European-American nexus. First, it focuses on the striking gap between politics and administration in contemporary Europe, and reflects on the implications for democracy. Second, it examines recent tensions between the USA and European governments, arguing that the source goes far deeper than the bare-knuckles diplomacy of the current Bush Administration. Finally, it examines the early history of US national unity as a model for European efforts.

State Political Culture and Welfare Reform

State Political Culture and Welfare Reform
Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 32, no. 2 (May 2004)

Mead, L.
05/01/2004

I investigate the link between the general features of state governments and their ability to reform welfare. The best indicator of governments’ characteristics is Elazar’s political cultures. I define what successful welfare reform means, drawing on implementation research and experience. My criteria stress process, the avoidance of political and administrative problems. I then test the link between the Elazar cultures and successful reform using recent case studies of state implementation of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Elazar’s “moralistic” states perform best, and the association holds, even controlling for other influences. Results depend, however, on how welfare reform is defined.

High Performance Government: Structure, Leadership, Incentives

High Performance Government: Structure, Leadership, Incentives
Rand,

Light, P.C. & Klitgaard, R.
01/01/2004

Fixing problems in the federal government. In 2003, the National Commission on the Public Service, chaired by Paul Volcker, issued a report detailing problems within the federal government today and recommending changes in its organization, leadership, and operations. This book suggests practical ways to implement the recommendations and defines a research agenda for the future. Thirteen essays address the primary problem areas identified by the Volcker Commission, and the commission report itself is included.

Welfare Caseload Change: An Alternative Approach

Welfare Caseload Change: An Alternative Approach
Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 31, no. 2 (May 2003)

Mead, L.
05/03/2003

In the last decade, caseloads in AFDC/TANF have shifted dramatically up, then down. Of existing studies based on time series or state panel data, some tend to underplay the role of welfare reform. All say little about that policies drove the decline or about the role of governmental quality. An approach using cross-sectional models explains interstate differences in caseload change rather than the national trend but allows more discussion about the role of policy and government. Results suggest that grant levels, work and child support requirements, and sanctions are important explainers of change, along with some demographic terms and unemployment. These policies in turn are tied to states' political opinion, political culture, and institutional capacity. Moralistic states seem the most capable of transforming welfare in the manner the public wants.

Erosion and Reform from the Center in Kenya

Erosion and Reform from the Center in Kenya
in James Wunsch and Dele Olowu, eds., Local Governance in Africa: The Challenges of Democratic Decentralization. Boulder, CO: Lynne Reinner Publishers,

Smoke, P.
01/01/2003

Kenya has a rich history of local governance, both from ethnic-group traditions and the system set up during the British colonial era, when local governments were fairly independence (1963), when Kenya's economy and population growth accelerated, demands were so heavy that some local governments could not deliver key services adequately. This situation, combined with the central government's desire for political consolidation to minimize ethnic power conflicts that increased in the postcolonial era, prompted the government to weaken local authorities. Key services (health, education, major roads) were recentralized, and the local graduated personal tax (GPT) was taken over by the center. Grants were established to compensate local governments for their revenue losses, but they were gradually phased out. Control over local governments expanded, with few spending, revenue, or employment decisions permitted without scrutiny by the Ministry of Local Government (MLG).

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