Definition: Governmental Policies/ Government’s impact on society
Government policy makes up a significant chunk in our lives, whether we notice it or not. Some of us also think that they tend to just argue all the time without any real change in our everyday lives. In most cases that isn’t true. To understand why, we need to understand what exactly goes into making a governmental policy and what it does to impact us.
In the article, “What is government policy?” on the site nidirect. They state that it is any course of action which intends to change a certain situation. When defining government policy, it is actually pretty simple. Some basic examples are things that could change how much tax we pay, parking fines, immigration laws and pensions. Laws that are already in place can also be changed by government policies. An example of a law that is in place but has slowly been changing is the laws behind marijuana reform. Marijuana for recreational use is illegal federally but a small number of states have overturned this individually. This is an example of laws being changed through government policy, though just at the state level.
One thing the government can do is provide things like subsidies to consumers and taxpayers. Some government programs offer grants and subsidies to first time home buyers. Things like the FHA, USDA, and even Veterans Affairs offers varying assistance to people buying homes for the first time. Imagine, if you would, that you are a veteran or even an active duty service member returning to the country after a long tour of duty and you’re looking to buy your first home. The ease of mind that comes when they guarantee part of the loan goes miles for people so they don’t have to struggle to pay back on the loan as much. VA loans also offer things such as competitive interest rates and generally require no down payment.
Another type of policy in the U.S. is our policies on drugs. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is usually the head of all decisions regarding our nation’s standings on drugs. The main purpose of The Office of National Drug Control Policy is to combat illegal drug use, manufacturing, and stop drug related crime in the country. Some ways that they fight these issues are, to strengthen efforts to prevent drug use in communities, seek early intervention opportunities in health care, and integrate treatment for substance use disorders into health care, and expand support for recovery.
In recent years the threat of global warming is an ever pressing issue. The pollution of our waterways, overproduction of greenhouse gasses, and reliance on nonrenewable fossil fuels has caused serious problems to our country’s ecosystems. In order to slow this degradation of our natural resources and habitats the government has made it illegal for factories to dump waste anywhere they want. The government also may put taxes and fees on businesses that tend to rely on unclean energy. This is done in order to incentivise businesses to develop cleaner means of production. The government may also provide businesses with tax cuts or subsidies if they promote clean energy use and promote an ecofriendly work environment.
These policies also effect the economy and visa versa. Government regulation on businesses are frequently used to engineer economic growth or prevent negative economic consequences. The article, “What impact does economics have on government policy?” by investopedia, explains that in periods of weak economic growth, economists recommend lowering interest rates to encourage borrowing and restore economic growth. When interest rates are lowered businesses can borrow more money to invest in their businesses. The article also goes into detail about how banks are offered a discount rate on funds borrowed so that they can re-lend to consumers. We borrow money in order to put a down payment on a car, buy a house, and start up a business, just to name a few. Banks are crucial in the direction the consumer economy goes given that they are the “gatekeepers,” as the article put it.
On another hand, researchers such as, Richard Layard, state that the government should make policies that effect our happiness their top priority and not just economic prosperity. He promotes the idea of using data-driven methods in order to determine what policies make the American people the most happy. In an interview with him where he describes his book, “The Origins of Happiness,” he told the interviewer that his main goal of the book was to describe certain policy changes and their effects on the overall happiness of the people. His goal was to give policymakers exact numbers that they can use to make their decisions. He took data on levels of happiness in a normal population, from rich to poor, single to married, young and old, etc. He found that though income was a factor in every category he studied it wasn’t a significant enough impact on overall happiness of the people. Income in the end only accounted for a fraction of variation between overall happiness levels and in the end when the government passes laws that promote the happiness of the citizens first more people prosper. He also points to the happiness levels of Scandinavian countries in comparison given that since their people are happier their society tends to be much better in the long run.
I believe Franklin D. Roosevelt puts it best when he said, “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” We are the ones that allow these policies to be put in place. As these policies are put in place it ultimately effects us as citizens and consumers of goods, whether we realize it or not. It is important for us to understand what policies are put into place and how it does effect us in the end. When we are knowledgeable about our government we can vote for people who will put in laws that will make us all happier in the end.
Can Government Policies Make Us Happier? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/can_government_policies_make_us_happier
Government policy. (2016, September 19). Retrieved from https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/government-policy
Investopedia. (2018, August 03). What impact does economics have on government policy? Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/031615/what-impact-does-economics-have-government-policy.asp