220 American Government and Politics
Spring, 2000

Kenneth Janda, Instructor

Lecture 3: American Politics in a Global Environment

May 24

Concluding points on spending policies, yesterday's lecture:

  • Let's look at President Clinton's 1998 proposed budget by category:
  • The great rise in payments to individuals suggests that the US government has moved toward a welfare state.
  • But as Slomp notes, Europeans are more devoted to government spending on social policies that Americans are
    • Social security and social services are generally more extensive than they are in the U.S.
    • "welfare" is not a dirty word in European politics
    • The state's role in most of Europe is to equalize the standard of living of its citizens.
    • Thus promoting social equality tends to trump promoting personal freedom in European political cultures.
  • The highly unequal distribution of wealth in American society can be understood from the perspective of two models of democracy.
    • Scholars argue that tax and spending policies are dominated by pluralist politics which favor well funded and well organized interest groups.
    • Public opinion studies show that Americans are unlikely to seek redistribution of income through the tax system as prescribed by the majoritarian principles of democracy.

The Challenge of Democracy: the next edition

  • Our new subtitle will reflect our the theme of the 2001 edition:
  • Through 6 editions, the subtitle has been, Government in America
  • For the 7th edition, the subtitle will become, American Politics in a Global Environment
  • We will show how American politics affect other countries
  • We will also show how politics in other countries affects politics in the U.S.