PAD 520 Week 6 Discussion 1 Prescribing Preferred Policies

Title: Prescribing Preferred Policies


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Part I

Goals are implemented whenever there is identification of a policy problem. Goals are desired outcomes that organizations or individuals commit, and plan to accomplish: an organizational anticipated end-point. The policy alternatives adopted are used to achieve the set goals. The goals are decoded into statements of objectives because objective statements are more tangible in terms of the anticipated end points (solutions). Objectives’ measurable aspects are known as the criteria (Dunn, 2012).

The purpose of criteria is to establish rules that will be followed to compare and analyze various policy alternatives that are being proposed. Actual measurements are taken for each proposed alternative. Two criteria used for policy prescription are effectiveness and equity. Effectiveness criterion is used to evaluate the policy alternatives proposals. Effectiveness indicates the degree to which policy proposals will realize the set goals.

Equity is classified as a public question while effectiveness is both an economic and technical question. Equity involves social distribution of benefits and problems. Challenges faced by college students is an example of a hypothetical public policy issue. College students are under-prepared and paid low-income: this affects their ability to become successful and accomplish their goals. The main contributing factor is declining state-aid. Most students depend on funds provided by the states for developmental education.

College students have varying financial needs and the state aid cannot sustain them throughout their education. Financial aid vary from state to state, therefore there is uneven distribution of funds across all the states. This means that there are college students who receive more aid than their colleagues in other states. Equity is the most beneficial criteria that can be used when making decisions that concern policies.

Since equity involves social distribution of benefits and problems, equity is affected by policy alternatives that influence distribution of benefits in the society. Types of equities are: vertical and horizontal equity. Vertical equity checks the distribution of benefits in the societal groups that are relatively uneven. Horizontal equity involves distribution of benefits to groups that are relatively equal.

Part II

Rational choice asserts that people usually make rational and sensible decisions. People derive great satisfaction from these decisions. It is certainly not true to state that rational choice is not possible because there are situations where individuals actively strive to gain maximum benefit. Therefore, they are minimizing incurred losses. Most individuals desire to increase profit in any situation hence they will be rational when selecting and also make rational calculations (Levin & Milgrom, 2004).

However, there are instances where individuals fail to make rational decisions because they are not in a position to gather all the relevant information necessary to come up with rational decision. Further, anxious individuals rarely make rational decisions. This means that rational choice is somehow not practical in the real world. For instance, Britons who favored Brexit vote based their campaigns on emotions instead of rational thinking. The outcome of the vote was unexpected with the financial markets being affected the most.

Types of rationality are: theoretical, practical, formal and substantive. In theoretical rationality, sensible mastery of reality is achieved through construction of exact abstract concepts. Hypothetical confrontation with actuality may influence the actions of the individuals by introducing new regularities. Practical rationality involves acceptance of realities presented in life and thereafter determination of appropriate means of dealing with challenges they present. Practical rationality tries to make outcomes practical by precise calculations and careful weighing of adequate means (Kalberg, 1980).


Dunn, W. (2012). Public Policy Analysis. Pearson Education, Inc.

Feenberg, A. (2010). Modernity, Technology and the Forms of Rationality. Lyon-Shanghai: Knowledge and Society Today. MIT Press.

Kalberg, S. (1980). Max Weber’s Types of Rationality: Cornerstones for the Rationalization Processes in History. The American Journal of Sociology, 85, 1145-1179.

Levin, J., & Milgrom, P. (September 2004). Introduction to Choice Theory.