Public Policy Issues
Policy Topic Areas:
File version: $Id: index.htm,v 1.7 2002/07/03 06:14:34 lars Exp $
I am an immigrant to the United States; I came here from Denmark in 1980,
settling in Santa Barbara, California. While there is much to admire in
the United States, I find that the political process by which public policy
goals are defined, seems to have been abandoned by the citizenry at large.
In an effort to clarify my own understanding of issues, I have set up
(http://www.beagle-ears.com/policy/) and a mailing list which is
also gatewayed into
private USENET newsgroup (news://lists.beagle-ears.com/list.policy).
I will be posting draft policy documents, and editing them based on
the discussion that will hopefully unfold, striving to retain an edited
commentary of the rationale behind some of the choices advocated. In due
course, it is my hope that a set of draft policy documents can be sent
to each of our elected representatives.
/ Lars Poulsen
How to Participate
Read the documents at
http://www.beagle-ears.com/policy, look at the
and if you are interested in contributing, sign up for the mailing list at
For now, there will be one discussion group for all of
these topics. To help keep the different tracks of the discussion straight,
you are encouraged to put the title of the document under debate into the
subject field of every message.
The documents follow a similar outline:
- Introduction: A brief motivation for discussing this topic.
- Goals: A statement of high-level goals that I hope we can
agree are worthy of pursuing.
- Motivations: Justifications for the goals.
- Recommendations: Suggestions for specific legislative initiatives
that will make some progress towards the principles of the goals.
- Discussion (Contentious Issues): Justifications for recommendations
or arguments against
goals and recommendations not supported.
I was raised on a farm, and it should come as no surprise that I believe
that agricultural policy should have purposes other than providing cheap
Crime and Punishment
The United States has a larger percentage of its population incarcerated
than any other nation, and the inmate population is still rising. Why is
this and can we afford to continue like that?
It is obvious to everyone that most of our public schools are not functioning.
It is less obvious to most that this is not mostly an issue for parents:
A well-educated general public is a prerequisite for finding a lawful employment
for everyone, thus keeping crime rates down. When a young person graduates
from high school as a functional illiterate, what becomes of him or her?
What happens to a society when there are many people in this condition?
While Canada, England, Germany and most other countries have good public
health care systems, the US spends more per capita than any of these, yet
more than half the expense goes to administration, and almost a quarter
of the population is not covered. How can we improve this situation?
Housing is a basic necessity of life, and the fact that Santa Barbara with
150,000 inhabitants has 4,000 homeless is an indicator that there is a
deep crisis. But while it is easy to affirm there is a problem, solutions
are much harder to see.
1000 new residents are settling in California every day, and this pace
has been fairly steady since the buildup of the aerospace industry started
in 1942. In the forties and fifties, many of these new Californians came
from the east coast and the midwest, but in the last few decades, most
have come from Mexico, Vietnam, China and Korea. Since I myself am one
of these immigrants, I am very sensitive to the issues raised by this influx,
and I believe we as a society must make some choices on how to regulate
it, but the debate is poorly informed.
Land Use Planning
Land use planning is where immigration, housing and agriculture collide.
In costal California, zoning and land use planning are some of the most
contentious policy issues. Can we forge a consensus?
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