America The Unusual By John W. Kingdon

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America The Unusual By John W. Kingdon Essay, Research Paper The government of the United States of America is very unique. While many Americans complain about high taxes and Big Brother keeping too close an eye, the truth is that American government, compared to most foreign democracies, is very limited in power and scope. One area American government differs greatly from others is its scope of public policy. Americans desire limited public policy, a result of several components of American ideology, the most important being our desire for individuality and equal opportunity for all citizens. There are many possible explanations for the reason Americans think this way, including the personality of the immigrants who fled here, our physical isolation from other countries, and

the diversity of the American population. The main ideal that keeps public policy in America extremely limited compared to other democracies is the desire for less government, a more limited government. The strong American beliefs in individualism and equality result in this desire for limited government, and thus limited public policy. American government programs are much less ambitious than those of other industrialized democratic nations. Programs in health, welfare, housing, transportaion, and many other areas are much smaller and less ambitious (Kingdon: 44). This is a direct result of the American desire for limited government. Americans don’t want large programs in these areas because they more or less fear big government and believe it is inefficient and wasteful.

Americans lean towards a desire for equal oppurtunity as opposed to equal results, and thus believe government should stay clear and let people either succeed or fail on their own. They believe that successful individuals are simply the ones who achieved more with the opportunities they were given, and that it’s the job of the government to keep these opportunities equal for all, and not its job to see that everyone ends up successful. By taking the focus away from equality of results, America has become the victim of large income disparities as compared to other countries. In 1990, American households in the top decile of the income distribution had disposable incomes that were nearly six times greater than households in the bottom decile. Most other large industrialized

countries showed upper incomes only between two and four times greater than the lower (Kingdon: 35). The U.S. also has one of the largest poverty rates of any industrialized country. The main reason behind this is that other countries offer very generous government programs affecting poverty, such as longer-lasting unemployment benefits, children’s allowances and subsidized child care facilities, higher old-age and disability benefits, and guaranteed health insurance for the entire population (Kingdon: 35). While citizens of other countries may question the morality of such huge inequalities of result, American citizens do not. “It’s part of American ideology to believe not that the rich should be whittled down to size, but rather that we can all aspire to be rich one day,

or at least our children can” (Kingdon: 36). Thus Americans don’t believe government should even out financial or other resources, but merely ensure that everyone has the same chance to succeed if they wish to do so. Americans generally don’t want lavish government aid programs, as can be seen by their extreme displeasure of taxes. While citizens of other countries tolerate taxes as a way to fund government aid programs, Americans do not. Proposing plans that increase taxes have traditionally been disastorous for election candidates, almost always resulting in defeat (Kingdon: 44). This goes back to the American ideology of individualism. We believe we alone are entitled to our wealth, and that taxes are an invasion of our right to own and keep property (Kingdon: 44). We