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By James Q. Wilson

Acclaimed for the scholarship of its well-known authors and the readability of its narrative, American govt: associations and Policies units the normal for public coverage assurance whereas protecting specialize in 3 primary subject matters: the significance of associations of yank govt; the ancient improvement of governmental methods, actors, and guidelines; and who governs within the usa and to what ends. scholar involvement within the fabric is reinforced by way of confirmed pedagogical gains similar to studying ambitions framing each one bankruptcy, "Constitutional Connections" concerning present concerns to founding ideas, and "How issues paintings" packing containers that illustrate vital techniques.

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We want to know not only who governs, but what difference it makes who governs. In our day-to-day lives, we may not think government makes much difference at all. In one sense that is right, because our most pressing personal concerns—work, play, love, family, health—essentially are private matters on which government touches but slightly. But in a larger and longer perspective, government makes a substantial difference. Consider: in 1935, 96 percent of all American families paid no federal income tax, and for the 4 percent or so who did pay, the average rate was only about 4 percent of their incomes.

In some European democracies, for example, very few offices—often just those in the national or local legislature—are elective, and much of the money for campaigning for these offices comes from the government. In the United States, many offices—executive and judicial as well as legislative—are elective, and most of the money the candidates use for campaigning comes from industry, labor unions, and private individuals. Some people have argued that the virtues of direct or participatory democracy can and should be reclaimed even in a modern, complex society.

For instance, take Medicare, the program that pays for part of the cost of medical care for retired or disabled people. The program is financed mainly by payroll taxes on employees and employers. So, what’s your issue with Medicare? You might not be elderly, retired, disabled, an employee or an employer (not at present, anyway). But decisions about the program’s future are likely to affect you and people you care about—plenty! And the issue involves many fundamental moral and value choices, including ones about government’s present and future role in financing and administering health care.

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