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Under the Articles of Confederation of 1783, each American state was supreme and only cooperated with other states in a league of friendship to tackle national issues. However, a confederation approach to governance was unsatisfactory and dangerous to the American people because states pursued self-interest at the expense of the nation and denied liberties to some of their state residents (Cook, 2014). As a result, delegates drew up a new constitution that denied full sovereignty to state and national governments. Both states came from the grant of authority from the American people through the constitution that assigned different roles to the separate spheres of government.
Most countries around the world have a unitary system of government where there the central or national government is the only source of power. However, America has a federal system of shared power between at least two governments with authority over the same geographical area. Federalism is a dynamic government framework that fits in the fundamental nature of the American society. In the history of American, the US Constitution has acted as a flexible document that has facilitated change in the division of power between national and state governments and change in the conception of American federalism. Balance of authority between the spheres of American power is persistent issue in American politics, which cannot be settled because s President Woodrow Wilson observed,
“By the opinion of any one generation.” Social and economic changes, shifts in political values, the role of the nation in the world — all these things, he continued, have required each generation to treat federalism as “a new question.” (Tarr, 2015).
Spheres of Government in American Democracy
In American federalism, the constitution is the source of authority for the national and state governments, which ultimately reflects the ultimate power in a democracy. In America’s federal system, laws of the national government are situated in the Washington and they apply to all people who reside within the national borders. Laws of the state vary from state to state and they apply only to the residents of a particular state. The Congress does not have the power to abolish a state. Also, a state cannot assume the powers of the national government. National and state powers operate concurrently over the same geographical territory because they play different roles (Burgess, 2013). The federal government focuses on general concerns while the state powers concentrate on local matters. American federalism allows state and national authorities to co-exist as independent units because they both are present to serve the American people.
Impact of government actions on everyday life
The US Constitution mandates the federal government to create and enforce laws to ensure that the there is stability and order within the American society. The US constitution outlines the country’s law making process and establishes the legislative, executive, and judiciary to carry out this function. The federal government controls America’s economy by controlling the creation of a national currency. The national congress has the power to regulate the value of printed currency, and regulate interstate and international commerce. The US constitution mandates national security to the federal government. The federal government represents the American interests abroad and makes foreign policy which is an important duty as nations become more connected in the modern international system. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
Local and state governments exercise vital functions that directly affect daily activities of the American people. These governments plan and pay for roads, provide water, run public education institutions, establish zoning rules, arrange elections, organize fire and police services, and license professions. Local and state governments cooperate in services ranging from resident’s welfare to transportation and serve the same population (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). However, the state government is obligated to make the final decision over local functions. Local authority emanates from acts of the state legislatures or special state constitutional provisions. The state government has the jurisdiction to merge the local government with other entities, abolish it, or give it more authority; which makes local authority creatures of the state.[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
Efficiency of delegating public duties to the private sector
Public services provided by the government in the United States have encountered problems in availability of resources, accountability, and quality of the public services. Recently, the public sector has been under pressure to privatize some of its functions. For example, privatizing public school systems is controversial while the shift off in the public health services to the private sector has been allowed with minimum forethought (Burgess, 2013). Privatization of education in America is aimed at improving quality, professionalism, equity, and efficiency. Private schools give more option to the parents by breaking school monopoly and ultimately improving competition and quality of education provided to the students. Competition forces the schools, both public and private, to provide equitable education. More so, decentralization of education offers professional autonomy to the teachers who develop better work attitudes and improve the learning environment for their students.
On the other hand, privatization of public services leaves a void in developing mechanisms that hold private institutions accountable to the government and the American people. Public services such as public education systems promote democracy, achievement, social cohesion, and equity (Cook, 2014). However, if public utilities are specialized for niche audiences, there will no longer be an emphasis on values common to the American people.
Unnecessary Government Actions
The federal government has some actions that lead to unnecessary and wasteful spending. The national government controls programs that would be more efficient if they were devolved to the local and state governments. The federal government continues to provide public services that might be performed better by the private companies. Some citizens feel that the government directs programs to recipients who are not entitled to government benefits. Also, the federal government develops and implements outdated programs that lead to wasteful spending. However, the American government is always faced with mismanagement, inefficiencies, duplicative programs and fraud.
More specifically, Washington spends 25 billion dollars per year to maintain vacant federal properties. Government Accountability Office reports a duplication of 342 economic development programs that cover the well-being of at-risk youth, ECD programs, safe water programs, and funding for international education programs (Burgess, 2013). Another audit by the GAO showed that almost 50 percent of purchases on government credit cards were embezzled, improper, or fraudulent. Health care fraud costs the taxpayer approximately 60 billion dollars annually (Romzek, 2014). Most of these examples indicate government spending that most American citizens would consider wasteful. Lawmakers should address budget deficits by eliminating slightest justifiable spending and addressing long-term management costs.
Understanding of the American people on the importance of the government
America is too large to operate as a direct democracy and is best suited to operate under the values of federalism. Americans are still finding it hard to participate in their governments in constructive and meaningful ways. However, democracy still works partly because of linkage institutions such as the media, interest groups, electoral campaigns, and political parties, which allow the citizens to voice their issues and concerns to the government. [Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
In conclusion, based on the above arguments, it can be observed that federalism has had a significant impact on America’s development over the years. Federalism is indeed the central pillar of American greatness.
Burgess, M. (2013). A conceptual reappraisal of federalism, federation, confederation, and federal political system. Routledge Handbook of Regionalism & Federalism, 1696.
Cook, B. J. (2014). Bureaucracy and self-government: Reconsidering the role of public administration in American politics. JHU Press.
Cullingworth, J. B., & Caves, R. (2013). Planning in the USA: Policies, issues, and processes. Routledge.
Romzek, B. (2014). The Veterans Affairs scandal reflects the tangled web of accountability in US government. LSE American Politics and Policy.
Tarr, G. A. (2015). Political Identity and American Federalism. In Federalism as Decision-Making(pp. 40-61). Brill.