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Dr. Cox's review questions from a Political Science class at the University of N


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If election districts represent geographical areas, what do interest groups represent?
Interests and ideals.
Why are there so many interest groups in the United States?
a)They form to protect the economic interests of people. Think about unions, farmers, manufacturers, teachers, etc.
b)People join groups to advance their ideas for society: examples would include groups formed to promote civil rights.
c)The fact that we are a free nation and a very diverse one encourages us to link up with people of similar interests.
What was Madison’s message in Federalist #10?
He warned that elected representatives, swayed by “mischiefs of faction” would sacrifice the good of the whole for the pet projects of the few.
Explain two theories of how interest groups form.
For the second theory, give an example.
a)David Truman’s DISTURBANCE THEORY: Groups form in response to a disturbance of our regular equilibrium.
b)Robert Salisbury: Interest group entrepreneurs or leaders work to organize, make membership attractive. These group leaders create organizations and build membership; then try to convince people to join.
EXAMPLE: Cesar Chavez who organized farm workers.
How can people be convinced to join interest groups?
1. incentives
2. sense of purpose/duty
3. commitment
4. benefits
Why do we say that interest group membership has a socio-economic bias?
The membership is only available or applicable to a certain group of people (not everyone).
How can we tell a political party from an interest group?
Political parties unite diverse ideas, while interest groups point out minority views.
What is a free rider?
A free rider is a potential member who fails to join a group because he or she can get the benefit, or collective good, sought by the group without contributing to the effort.
Who is Mancur Olsen and what did he say about groups and group membership?
Mancur Olsen is an economist who said that if groups give a collective good for everyone, then there will be free rider problems.
What do interest groups usually want?
Benefits for their members.
Who is Robert Putnam and how does he relate to this topic?
Robert Putnam is a political scientist who studied the declining memberships in groups in recent years and how that decreases social capital.
What is the Christian Coalition and what does it advocate? How did it start?
A coalition that replaced Moral Majority. It advocates the restoration of common sense values. It was started by Pat Robertson.
What are several types of activities engaged in by lobbyists?
1. Giving info to members of Congress
2. Running ads
3. Testifying in front of committees
What is grassroots lobbying?
Lobbying the common people, from the ground up.
Why can lobbyists be counted on to supply accurate information to members of Congress?
a)Lobbyists are viewed as well-informed professionals.
b)The lobbyist’s influence depends on his/her credibility.
Are we a nation of joiners?
Yes, we are, according to Alexis de Tocqueville.
What are some good arguments to show that interest groups do not act in the best interest of democracy?
a)Interest groups monopolize government power, making it difficult if not impossible for individuals to participate.
b)Groups may cooperate rather than compete, carving out sections for one another in which to operate.
c)Interest groups are usually not internally democratic.
d)The power of interests is quite uneven and unequal.
1. Age-Related: the Children’s Defense Fund, the AARP
2. Agricultural Groups: less than 3% of work force, but very powerful. One example would be the Farm Bureau.
Business and Trade Organizations: the Chamber of Commerce
Civil Rights: NAACP, LULAC, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
1. Economic Interest: AFL-CIO, American Medical Association (AMA), Association of Trial Lawyers of America, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Ind. Business
2. Environmental Groups: the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society, Greenpeace, Environmental Defense
Ideological: organizations pursuing a liberal or conservative agenda.
Professional: the American Medical Association, the American Bar Association
and Public Interest...
Religious Groups: the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition
Single-Issue: passionate and even shrill
2.Amnesty International U.S.A.
6. Human Rights Campaign
6. National Right to Life Committee
7. Ralph Nader organizations
8. Civil and constitutional rights groups
9. Environmental groups
10.Good government groups: Common Cause, Public Citizen, Inc.;Peace groups, Church groups
Unions: the AFL-CIO is an umbrella organization for more than 70 unions
Veterans: American Legion, Disabled American Veterans
What is the Chamber of Commerce?
Business and trade organization.
What is the AARP?
American Association of Retired Persons - looks after the elderly
What is the AAUP?
American Association of University Professors-looks after university professors
What is the AFL-CIO?
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations-an umbrella organization for more than 70 unions
What is the NRA?
NRA (National Rifle Association
- Believes in an individual's right to keep and bear arms.
- Prez Charlton Heston?
What is the Business Roundtable?
group of chief executive officers
What is distributive policy?
Government collects taxes, and uses the funds for common good.
What is redistributive policy?
Funds are distributed to certain groups.
What is regulatory policy?
Government regulates how funds are spread out.
What are pure public goods?
Goods available to everyone within a governmnet's jurisdiction.
Ex: clean air, defense, education
What are collective goods?
Goods available to an entire subset of the whole population.
Ex: Medicaid.
What are publicly supplied private goods?
Government-supplied goods that are available to only certain members of a particular subset.
Ex: Leniency on environmental restrictions for one company.
What is public policy?
1. A purposive course of action taken by government to deal with some problem or matter of concern.
2. A pattern of intentional government ACTION or INACTION.
What are some details of policy?
1. May be directed by or based on LAW.
2. May be based on CUSTOM.
3. May be LOOSELY or STRICTLY enforced.
What is an entitlement?
Guaranteed to all people who qualify.
What are some examples of entitlement programs?
Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and food stamps.
What is the feminization of poverty?
The high rate of poverty among unmarried women with children.
What is symbolic policy?
They have actual content or substance to them.
What is substantive policy?
They seem to do something but are little more than gestures.
Ex: Recognition of someone's death.
What are systemic agendas?
All public issues that are viewed as requiring governmental attention; a discussion agenda.
What are institutional agendas?
A.K.A. governmental agenda
The changing list of issues to which governments believe they should address themselves.
What causes an issue to get to governmental agendas?
1. Interest groups and their lobbyists
2. Some crisis, natural disaster or other extraordinary event
3. Individual private citizens, members of Congress, and other officials, acting as policy entrepreneurs.
4. Celebrity, coupled with their clout.
4. Political changes
What factors keep an issue from getting to governmental agendas?
The many problems that are competing for a spot and the attention of policy makers.
What are the steps in the policy process?
1. Problem Recognition and Definition
2. Agenda Setting
3. Policy Formulation
4. Policy Legitimation
5. Policy Implementation
6. Policy Evaluation
Are policy changes usually sweeping or incremental? Why?
Hard to make large changes all at once.
In this society, we commonly prefer gradual (incremental) solutions over radical changes.
What does it mean to formulate and legitimate a policy?
It means to create a policy to solve a problem, and then get concurrence and approval for it.
What are problems with internal evaluations of policy?
Internal evaluations are more biased, though more is known about the policy.
What are problems with external evaluations of policy?
External evaluations are less biased, but less is known about the policy.
What is Social Darwinism? Who believed in it? When did we change our views about it?
- The idea that even in human society, the strong survive while the weak do not, and that everyone willing to work can make a living. The strong will survive, thus proving the theory of natural selection. Government should take a “hands off” stance toward the economy.
- People before the GD and Herbert Spencer, Adam Smith, and Charles Darwin.
- In the '30s, as the world was entering the Great Depression.
What are the names of the social welfare programs of Presidents Roosevelt, Johnson, and Clinton?
-Roosevelt-'30s-"The New Deal"
-Johnson-'60s-"The Great Society"
-Clinton-'90s-Ended welfare, reducing dependency on it
What book increased President Johnson’s concerns about poverty?
Michael Harrington’s The Other America
What is the poverty threshold for a family of four?
18,400 dollars
What is the overall picture of wealth and income distribution in the United States?
⬢The top 1% of Americans holds about 40% of all wealth.
⬢In 2000, the median income was $42,100. That means that one-half of all households made more, and one half made less.
⬢More than one out of every six families lives on annual income of $17,000 or less.
Who are the working poor?
People who work full-time but are still poor.
Which groups are more likely than others to be poor?
1. African Americans
2. unmarried women
3. inner city residents
4. Hispanics.
⬢Everyone in this society has a chance, but some choose not to take advantage of their opportunities.
⬢Many of the poor are in that condition because of choices they made---to drop out of school, use drugs, have children, or just not work.
⬢There is a culture of poverty in the U.S. It has developed as a result of government programs that breed dependency.
⬢There are plenty of programs to help the truly needy, such as children, the elderly, and the disabled.
⬢Business cycles are part of any capitalistic economy, and people are hurt through no fault of their own.
⬢Our nation has a long history of terrible discrimination, which affects education and employment.
⬢Some schools are awful, so children have fewer chances to succeed.
⬢Government programs for the poor are quite limited compared to those for corporations and well-off persons. Of the trillion dollars spent every year, only about $24 billion goes to the poor. The remainder benefits the wealthy and middle classes, as well as corporations.
What is a means tested program?
For those whose incomes fall below a designated level.
Ex:Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI, TANF
What is a social insurance program?
For those who work and pay into the program.
Ex: Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance
What is a social welfare program?
A social program that helps disadvantaged groups.
Ex: Social Insurance Programs, Means Tested Programs
When was Social Security created? How does the system work?
-During the New Deal
-People pay for currently retired persons and get the benefits later in proportion to what they contributed.
What is OASDI?
U.S. Social Security
What is FICA?
Federal Insurance Contribution Act
What was AFDC such a hated program?
1. Men not allowed in the household to receive benefits-->encouragement not to get married.
2. Encouragement to have more children in order to get more money.
3. No time limits-->dependency on the program- average time on AFDC=10yrs
Can you work and earn money while you draw Social Security retirement?
Yes. Until Clinton’s term, retired people lost $1 of benefits for every $3 they earned.
Details of Social Security?
-Short name for OASDI (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance.)In addition to retired persons, some disabled persons are covered. Dependents are also covered by the program.
Details of Medicare?
-A part of Social Security.
⬢Medicare (Part A)automatic: A program that pays a portion of hospital costs for elderly and disabled people
⬢Medicare (Part B)optional: A program that pays physicians. Persons eligible for Medicare can choose to enroll in Part B and pay a premium for the service.
Details of Medicaid?
Provides medical care to the poor.
Details of SSI?
Supplemental Security Insurance: Cash payments to the very poor. Most recipients are old, blind, or disabled.
Details of TANF?
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Started in the '90s to provide aid for families with children. Formerly AFDC.
Details of food stamps?
Helps the poor buy food.
Details of unemployment insurance?
Weekly payments to workers who have been laid off and cannot find work. Program is paid for by a tax on employers.
What is the Lone Star Card? What is it used for?
- "Food stamp of Tx"
- Used the help the poor buy food.
What is the dependency ratio?
The portion of the population who cannot support themselves.
How does U.S. health care compare to that of other advanced nations?
How much do we spend, compared to others? Is it paying off for our citizens?
-We spend more than 14% of GDP on health costs, which is higher than other industrialized nations.
-It is NOT paying off for our citizens because our key indicators such as life expectancy and infant mortality are not as good as those of many other nations.
What is the extent of medical errors?
Experts estimate that as many as 98,000 people die in any given year from medical errors that occur in hospitals.
What factors contribute to high health care costs?
- More people are living longer and requiring costly and extensive care in their declining years.
-The ranger and sophistication of diagnostic practices have increased.
-The expansion of private health insurance has reduced the direct costs of health care to most people and increased the demand for services.
- Health care has increased in quality.
-Labor costs have outpaced productivity in the provision of hospital care.
-U.S. medicine focuses less on preventing illnesses and more on curing them, which is more costly.
Why are drug prices so high?
Drug companies oppose price controls on drugs. They say they need the money for more research and development.
What is Medicare, Part A, and what does it cover? How does one get it?
-Automatic, covers hospitalization, some skilled nursing care, and home health services.
-A person is eligible for Medicare if they or their spouse worked for at least 10 years in Medicare-covered employment and they have reached age 65 and are a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. One might also qualify if they are younger with a disability or with end-stage renal disease.
What is Medicare, Part B, and what does it cover? How does one get it?
-Optional, covers doctor bills, outpatient and diagnostic services.
- Pay a premium to get it. In 2001, it costs 50$/mth.
What is Medicaid? Who is eligible for it?
-Medical care aid to the poor.
-A person is eligible if they are on TANF and SSI. Also eligible since 1986 are pregnant women and children under age six in families with incomes of less than 133% of the official poverty level.
What services are available through Medicaid?
Hospitalization, physician services, prescription drugs, and long term nursing home care.
Why do the elderly benefit so much from Medicaid?
They usually can’t afford health insurance.
What are the major obstacles to health care reform?
1. Providers of such services want to be covered by insurance policies or other health care plans, which increases costs. These include psychologists, mental health and drug abuse counselors, physical therapists, chiropractors, optometrists, and dentists.
Drug prices are going up fast these days, but drug companies oppose price controls on drugs. They say they need the money for more research and development.
Medical specialists want patients to have easier access to them, but don't want to accept limits on charges.
Senior citizens and their lobbying groups want more benefits including prescription drug coverage, eye glasses, hearing aids, and nursing home care, but do not want to pay more.
How does Parkland Hospital contribute to the health care in this area?
Community-oriented primary care.
What is the third party payer system? What are its effects?
In a third-party payer system, an insurance company (or any payer who is not the patient, such as the government, an employer, or an insurance company) covers most of the cost of medical services. This is the prevailing payment system in America. Such a structure encourages inefficient use of health care services by patients, because they are shielded from the true costs of those services.
What is a PCP?
Primary care physician.
First doctor you see for any problem.
What is an HMO?
Health maintenance organization.
Created to provide overall care, with the emphasis on preventive care.
What are the important functions of the Texas Education Agency?
1.Oversees student testing
2.Gives performance ratings
3.Administers State Permanent School Fund
What are the main functions of school districts in Texas?
1.construct/maintain school buildings
2.hire teachers
3.Transport students
4.Operate lunch programs
5.Design education programs
What are vouchers?
Let students leave a poor school and attend a better school.
What are charter schools?
Public schoolS operated independently of the local school board.
What is the Robin Hood law?
Funnels property tax money from rich districts to poor ones.
Where does education funding come from?
Property taxes.
What are the main education issues about which people are arguing these days?
1. How Should Schools be Funded?
2. Politicizing the Curriculum.
3. Vouchers.
4. Home Schooling.
How did free public education develop in the U.S.?
Started by Horace Mann (father of American education.
What is/was A Nation At Risk?
Report that US schools are woefully bad at preparing students.
How do the earnings of teachers compare with those of other professionals?
What are the basic elements of the No Child Left Behind law?
1.Sets standards of achievement and testing for accountability
2. Sets specific goals in reading and math;
3.Cuts federal red tape, adds flexibility.
What legal regulations exist for home schoolers?
The parent must notify a state or local education agency of their intent to homeschool and identify the children involved. Some states require that curricula be submitted. A few even test parents. Only Michigan requires certified teachers be involved with homeschooling. That state has excused parents from the obligation if they have religious objections.
What are the key arguments in favor and/or opposed to home schooling?
Although most people believe parents have a right to try it, many feel that it is not the best practice for children.

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