Can We Fix It? (Yes We Can…) Maybe
This exercise is going to have you apply your understanding of the content of Module 4 to contemporary Texas politics. You will relate knowledge you have acquired about Federalism (chapter 2), Local Governments (chapter 3), Political Parties (chapter 4), and the Politics of Interest Groups (chapter 7). Be sure you have looked over the assigned readings before you prepare your response to this free write.
Our fourth writing assignment takes on the important-but-not-sexy topic of infrastructure politics in the Texas. I want you to explore different websites and links in order to prepare your thoughts about this topic. We can use our knowledge of federalism to understand the nature of the controversies and the basis of conflicts in the politics of infrastructure. Let’s start with a primer on infrastructure brought to us by the American Society of Civil Engineers: 2012 Report Card for Texas’s Infrastructure (this is the most recent report – just scroll down the page for an overview).
To understand the politics of infrastructure, we must account for the roles of federal, state, and local governments in the making of policies. In 2012, a think-tank/interest group, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), issued a call to action regarding complex federal-state infrastructure issues (Encouraging U.S. Infrastructure Investment). Please review this article for context.
Here in Texas, the legislative focus has been on highways. With one of the nation’s largest highway system, road transportation is vital to the state’s economy. Not stymied by gridlock in Washington, state Department of Transportation (TXDot) officials are getting creative. For a look at current highway issues, please read Highway Funding Showdown is Latest Budget Scramble at TxDOT
The concept of federalism introduces us to the ways in which the levels of government—national, state, and local—operate. This unique structure of government allows all levels to interact with one another to make or to thwart policy. It allows for wide variations in policy reflecting different political cultures in the United States.
Prompts: You will organize your free write response by incorporating the following information (this is required and be sure to make specific references to the sources that influence your position).
1) In general, do you favor the national government or state and local governments in policymaking. Why?
2) Which level of government should take the lead in the making of public policies that address infrastructure? What is the basis of your answer?
3) Do you support or oppose the privatization of infrastructure?
4) What have you learned by doing this assignment?
500 words or more
What Can Get Through the Government?
Now that you have explored the issue of higher education affordability in some depth, as well as your own thoughts and preferences, what, realistically, do you think Texas government can do?
In this next-to-the-last installment of our Class Project, I’d like you to think about all the aspects of public policy you’ve considered in the area of higher education access and affordability. Specifically, you have identified your own position on the issues, you have explored new approaches in Texas, and you have laid out what you want the state government to do. Now it’s time to think about what can actually be accomplished in Texas policy. Is there a way for Democrats and Republicans to compromise on higher education access policy? Is there any common ground on which all Texans can stand on higher education affordability and access such that there would be general approval of a new state policy?
Your response should consider these questions. You must use your own words. Do not paraphrase or plagiarize. I am interested in your voice on this issue. Remember to be respectful of the wide range of perspectives represented in this class.
There are no right or wrong answers, but your posting must be civil and well written. You will post only once a week. Your posting must be made up of at least 250 words written in academic English. It is worth up to 10 points and your grade will reflect the thoughtfulness of your posting.
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