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Public Policy Essay

In the contemporary society, the world is characterized by freedom of speech and expression and also by a market place of policy ideas waiting to be prioritized or given a legislative action. As explained in detail by Hays (2001), analysis of Public policy debates began by John Kingdon (1984) and reissued in 1995. Kingdon critically examined how specific policies problems solutions become prominent. Looking at the policy making process, Kingdon particularly concentrated on the prediction stage and agenda setting ignoring the politics of how policy choices are made.

He argued that many individual through their own means may call for attention on a particular policy issue that need to be changed but at the end of the day it is a group of elected experts whom he called policy community who make decision on the issue to be the first agenda item therefore providing the ground for new policies (Hays, 2001). The communities operate as resources but also as gatekeepers. Kingdon argued that collectively a range of individuals serve to make up the necessary policy community or networks including experts, elected officials, bureaucrats, researchers and even government itself.

These communities influence the policy debate as witnessed in public policy institute of California (Mintrom, 2000). As a gate keeper, policy community or networks have a role in informal communication between those inside and the one outside the government. The channels are extraordinary open considering new ideas which deserve implementation while deciding on the one to be sidelined. Intellectual resourcefulness as well as determination is crucial in policy making process, Kingdon was emphatic that those who have more resources are better placed to make strong argument (Hays, 2001).

Over the years, public debate have dominated United States politics and at times carrying away the policy communities like fad (Mintrom, 2000). The most recent is the Wall Street issue where the Bush administration and his Republican party proposed a boost plan to the mortgage sector including some home owners. The move which was intended to stimulate the economy however elicited policy debate from allover. According to Hays (2001), Kingdon summarizes the policy making process into three separate streams: Problem process stream, policy process stream and political stream.

He argues that policy change advocates whom, he refer to as entrepreneurs of change mostly serve to belong to the above mentioned three streams in their efforts to bring popularity to a particular problem and also igniting policy innovation. By doing this they increase the chances that specific policy issues will give rise to new ideas and new policies. It is the problem stream where problems are recognized and identified for action. Both the people in government and outside government at any given time are aware of the social problems that need intervention.

However, it is important to note that in problem defining stage much is likely to be left at stake since those benefiting from the status quo are likely to convince the others that no problem exists after all. The second stream is the policy stream which Kingdon highlights as the process which entails generating and debating of ides for policy development by communities of policy specialists. Rarely, people come out with new ideas but more often they use the old ones to understand the new ones and thinking of ways to reformulate them with the others (Hays, 2001).

In order to be effective, public policy institutes must be objective to survive in community policy ideas. Solutions in most cases chase problems and that is to say people with solutions will look for the specific problems to solve (Mintrom, 2000). In addition, such institutions must be not only feasible but also compatible with the values of the majority of specialist in policy communities. Alteration of ideas and efforts by the policy advocate to persuade others according to Kingdon is one way of achieving compatibility (Hays, 2001).


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