Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better

Princeton University Press
2
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From healthcare to workplace and campus conduct, the federal government is taking on ever more responsibility for managing our lives. At the same time, Americans have never been more disaffected with Washington, seeing it as an intrusive, incompetent, wasteful giant. Ineffective policies are caused by deep structural factors regardless of which party is in charge, bringing our government into ever-worsening disrepute. Understanding why government fails so often—and how it might become more effective—is a vital responsibility of citizenship.

In this book, lawyer and political scientist Peter Schuck provides a wide range of examples and an enormous body of evidence to explain why so many domestic policies go awry—and how to right the foundering ship of state. An urgent call for reform, Why Government Fails So Often is essential reading for anyone curious about why government is in such a disgraceful state and how it can do better.

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About the author

Peter H. Schuck is the Simeon E. Baldwin Professor of Law Emeritus at Yale University. He is the author or editor of many books, including Agent Orange on Trial, Meditations of a Militant Moderate, Diversity in America, and Understanding America.
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Reviews

3.0
2 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Mar 23, 2014
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Pages
488
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ISBN
9781400850044
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Government / General
Political Science / American Government / General
Political Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Peter H. Schuck
A unique primer on how to think intelligently about the thorniest public issues confronting us today

Let's be honest, we've all expressed opinions about difficult hot-button issues without always thinking them through. With so much media spin, political polarization, and mistrust of institutions, it's hard to know how to think about these tough challenges, much less what to do about them. One Nation Undecided takes on some of today's thorniest issues and walks you through each one step-by-step, explaining what makes it so difficult to grapple with and enabling you to think smartly about it.

In this unique what-to-do book, Peter Schuck tackles poverty, immigration, affirmative action, campaign finance, and religious objections to gay marriage and transgender rights. For each issue, he provides essential context; defines key concepts and values; presents the relevant empirical evidence; describes and assesses the programs that now seek to address it; and considers many plausible solutions. Schuck looks at all sides with scrupulous fairness while analyzing them rigorously and factually. Each chapter is self-contained so that readers may pick and choose among the issues that interest and concern them most. His objective is to educate rather than proselytize you—the very nature of these five issues is that they resist clear answers; reasonable people can differ about where they come out on them.

No other book provides such a comprehensive, balanced, and accessible analysis of these urgent social controversies. One Nation Undecided gives you the facts and competing values, makes your thinking about them more sophisticated, and encourages you to draw your own conclusions.

Peter H. Schuck
Should chronically disruptive students be allowed to remain in public schools? Should nonagenarians receive costly medical care at taxpayer expense? Who should be first in line for kidney transplants—the relatively healthy or the severely ill? In T argeting in Social Programs , Peter H. Schuck and Richard J. Zeckhauser provide a rigorous framework for analyzing these and other difficult choices. Many government policies seek to help unfortunate, often low-income individuals—in other words, "bad draws." These efforts are frequently undermined by poor targeting, however. In particular, when two groups of bad draws—"bad bets" and "bad apples"—are included in social welfare programs, bad policies are likely to result. Many politicians and policymakers prefer to sweep this problem under the rug. But the costs of this silence are high. Allocating resources to bad bets and bad apples does more than waste money—it also makes it harder to achieve substantive goals, such as the creation of safe and effective schools. And perhaps most important, it erodes support for public programs on which many good bets and good apples rely. By training a spotlight on these issues, Schuck and Zeckhauser take a first step toward much-needed reforms. They dissect the challenges involved in defining bad bets and bad apples and discuss the safeguards that any classification process must provide. They also examine three areas where bad apples and bad bets loom large—public schools, public housing, and medical care—and propose policy changes that could reduce the problems these two groups pose. This provocative book does not offer easy answers, but it raises questions that no one with an interest in policy effectiveness can afford to ignore. By turns incisive and probing, Bad Draws will generate vigorous debate.
Peter H. Schuck
A unique primer on how to think intelligently about the thorniest public issues confronting us today

Let's be honest, we've all expressed opinions about difficult hot-button issues without always thinking them through. With so much media spin, political polarization, and mistrust of institutions, it's hard to know how to think about these tough challenges, much less what to do about them. One Nation Undecided takes on some of today's thorniest issues and walks you through each one step-by-step, explaining what makes it so difficult to grapple with and enabling you to think smartly about it.

In this unique what-to-do book, Peter Schuck tackles poverty, immigration, affirmative action, campaign finance, and religious objections to gay marriage and transgender rights. For each issue, he provides essential context; defines key concepts and values; presents the relevant empirical evidence; describes and assesses the programs that now seek to address it; and considers many plausible solutions. Schuck looks at all sides with scrupulous fairness while analyzing them rigorously and factually. Each chapter is self-contained so that readers may pick and choose among the issues that interest and concern them most. His objective is to educate rather than proselytize you—the very nature of these five issues is that they resist clear answers; reasonable people can differ about where they come out on them.

No other book provides such a comprehensive, balanced, and accessible analysis of these urgent social controversies. One Nation Undecided gives you the facts and competing values, makes your thinking about them more sophisticated, and encourages you to draw your own conclusions.

Peter H. Schuck
Should chronically disruptive students be allowed to remain in public schools? Should nonagenarians receive costly medical care at taxpayer expense? Who should be first in line for kidney transplants—the relatively healthy or the severely ill? In T argeting in Social Programs , Peter H. Schuck and Richard J. Zeckhauser provide a rigorous framework for analyzing these and other difficult choices. Many government policies seek to help unfortunate, often low-income individuals—in other words, "bad draws." These efforts are frequently undermined by poor targeting, however. In particular, when two groups of bad draws—"bad bets" and "bad apples"—are included in social welfare programs, bad policies are likely to result. Many politicians and policymakers prefer to sweep this problem under the rug. But the costs of this silence are high. Allocating resources to bad bets and bad apples does more than waste money—it also makes it harder to achieve substantive goals, such as the creation of safe and effective schools. And perhaps most important, it erodes support for public programs on which many good bets and good apples rely. By training a spotlight on these issues, Schuck and Zeckhauser take a first step toward much-needed reforms. They dissect the challenges involved in defining bad bets and bad apples and discuss the safeguards that any classification process must provide. They also examine three areas where bad apples and bad bets loom large—public schools, public housing, and medical care—and propose policy changes that could reduce the problems these two groups pose. This provocative book does not offer easy answers, but it raises questions that no one with an interest in policy effectiveness can afford to ignore. By turns incisive and probing, Bad Draws will generate vigorous debate.
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