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1UCLA Department of Political Science Fall 2007 PS 40 Introduction to American Politics Prof. Thomas Schwartz HUNK 14 THE PROBLEM OF GOVERNANCEToday we consider the problem of enforcingor implementingpolicies. Distinct from the problem of making good laws, it concerns how legislation translates into practice. Earlier in the course we mentioned that the federal government (Congress) under the Articles of Confederation had this problem: it could not enforce its will. A telling example of the problem of implementation is George Washington’s suggestion to Congress that cattle and grain be taken from the farmers in Long Island so that the British who had just landed there could not get them. Congress took his advice, but nothing happened: the farmers kept their cattle and grain. A couple of other examples are Lincoln’s ordering General McClellan to attack Richmond, and his ordering General Meade to pursue the enemy after Gettysburg. They failed to carry out Lincoln’s orders. Similar examples involve Soviet leader Gorbachev’s initial efforts to reduce drinking and to reform the economy in the USSR. His orders had scant effect. These examples are instances of the agency problem. How does someone, a principal, get someone else, an agent, to dosomething? Much of political theory is about how government should be organized to reach good decisions - - and what, for that matter, constitutes a good decision. Much of political science, in contrast, is about what policies are made and how.
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