14.3 Policy Making in Action
The major areas of public policy are domestic policy, economic policy, and foreign policy (to be discussed later) as well as defense policy. Domestic policy includes both regulatory policy and social welfare policy.
14.3a Regulatory policy
Any government exists for certain purposes, among which are the regulation of business and commerce, laborers, transportation and communications. Regulation involves setting restraints on individuals and groups, directly compelling them to take, or not to take certain actions. Owing to several abuses, the government was forced to exercise its regulatory powers. Thus, the Congress granted over 100 million acres of land to the railroad builders, between 1862 and 1866. However evidence of corrupt use of these lands, and the high rates charged by the railroads, created an insistent demand for national regulation. As a result, the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 was passed. It led to the setting up the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), the first independent regulatory commission to be created by the Congress and led to an era of more positive federal regulation of business.
Campaigns for protection against adulterated foods and drugs
in the 1880s resulted in the enactment of the pure Food and Drug
Act of 1906, which prohibited the interstate sale of adulterated
or misbranded food and drugs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
was set up with control over the misbranding, false labeling and
adulteration of foods, drugs, cosmetics and therapeutic devices.
Several regulatory activities are carried out by government through commissions. These include the fixing of fair prices for goods and services, granting of licenses and franchises, laying down safety standards, providing resources, and enforcing compliance with laws concerning discrimination. These regulatory policies are competently carried out by several commissions and agencies. These are the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which places limitations on the number of radio and television stations that can be owned by a company, makes rules to govern public service and local programming, as well as conducts reviews of station operations. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was established to administer the Federal Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These require registration of all issues of stocks, bonds or other securities, and also regulate the buying and selling of securities on exchanges in the country. The environment is safeguarded by the EPA. The interests of workers and customers are protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). These were directly created in response to the inability of business concerns to safeguard their customers and workers. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates accidents involving civil aircraft, determines their cause, and hears appeals relating to air safety. It has similar authority over railroads and other surface transportation.
14.1 The Policy Making Process
Politics and Policy Making
Policy Making in Action