It is almost impossible to discuss new government policy proposals without first explaining them in terms of costs and benefits. This is because costs and benefits do not easily fit in the traditional idea of the public interest. Also,it’s believed the public interest is morally above such narrow economic criteria. Equally important, when a public interest claim succeeds in meeting the cost benefit test, it is usually difficult to measure the outcome in terms of monetary value.
Looking at the enactment of historically significant legislation, we find that shared values are mostly the forces behind both the interest groups and social movements that struggle to achieve it. Examples include; Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, Pawnbrokers Act, and the Sex Offenders Registry Act.Consider the passage of the Access to Education Act. In the middle 1800s, schools opened and closed as new communities sprouted or as local economies collapsed. Sometimes early school closures were prompted by parents who resisted sending their children to school and the persistent refusal of some families prevented schools in some communities to be re-opened.
As years elapsed and more settlers began to send their children to public school and high school, education required a certain standard set by the public school system. People expected to have better opportunities for work based on educational standards.
Beyond the broad sweeps of historical change, there is evidence that show the importance of ideas in the ordinary course of public affairs. This shows that people don’t act simply on the basis of their perceived self-interest. In fact, over the past 30 years, a good deal of support, reinforce the contention that ideas and values can be relatively autonomous of interests and institutions. However, it is never easy to sort out these influences. The values of individuals can arise independently of their life experience and can exert an independent influence on their political behaviour.
Here are some examples. People’s attitudes toward war are found to be influenced by their general views on foreign policy than by their experiences of war or military service. Similarly, opinion surveys show that businessmen’s attitudes towards foreign policy and military defence better correlate with their political ideas rather than with how closely their entrepreneurial activities are involved with defence or defence-related production. Counter-intuitively, being out of a job has less effect on people’s political values and actions than do their attitudes toward unemployment. Such findings show that in addition to acting to maximize personal self-interest, people also strive to achieve social and ideological goals.
Because politics is grounded in disputes about the good life and the means of realizing it, policy politics by its nature centres on controversial ideas and beliefs about the best course of action.
The most important thing to remember is that the citizens has a major influence in deciding which policies are the most important.