THE EDITOR HAS ASKED ME, AS AN ECONOMIST, TO RESPOND TO PROFESSOR MEAD'S ESSAY ON THE RELATION BETWEEN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE IN THE STUDY OF PUBLIC POLICY. THIS REQUEST SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN PROMPTED BY PROFESSOR MEAD'S STATEMENT TO THE EDITOR THAT HIS ESSAY HAD NOT BEEN WELL RECEIVED BY THOSE ECONOMISTS WHO HAD READ IT. BUT I HAD NO SUCH NEGATIVE REACTION, SO WHATEVER DUEL THE EDITOR MIGHT HAVE ANTICIPATED WOULD RESULT WILL NOT TAKE PLACE. PROFESSOR MEAD'S CONTENTION THAT THE STUDY OF PUBLIC POLICY "HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE JOINT CONTRIBUTION OF ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE TO THE STUDY OF PUBLIC ISSUES," SEEMS EMINENTLY REASONABLE TO ME. INDEED, THE AUTHOR DO NOT SEE HOW IT COULD BE OTHERWISE, ONCE IT IS RECOGNIZED THAT ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE REST UPON THE SAME FOUNDATION. THIS FOUNDATION IS WHAT ECONOMISTS REFER TO AS SCARCITY, WHICH MEANS THAT THE WANTS PEOPLE HAVE EXCEED THE CAPACITY THAT EXISTS WITHIN A SOCIETY TO FULFILL THOSE WANTS. BECAUSE OF SCARCITY, SOME MEANS OF RESOLVING CONFLICTS AND REPRESSING WANTS ARISE IN ALL SOCIETIES, AS DO PATTERNS OF COOPERATION TO ENHANCE THE EXTENT TO WHICH WANTS CAN BE FULFILLED.
In A Meaning for "Public Policy," Lawrence M. Mead (New York U, New York, NY) discusses public policy as a combination of economics & political science that optimally reflects the analytic strengths of both disciplines. Economics & political science are differentiated: the former is concerned with norms & the results of individual action; whereas the latter focuses on real political issues, groups, & constraints, & is concerned with collectively generated issues. The constructive function of the two disciplines is illustrated with an example from budgeting. In On Economics, Political Science, and Public Policy, Richard E. Wagner (Florida State U, Tallahassee) observes that both economics & political science are based on the fact of scarcity & the inherent conflict among peoples & societies it signifies. A historical review of the application of economic theory to political practice is provided, showing that this procedure has functioned similarly whether in absolutist or republican societies, with the difference that the latter could elect to alter policy directions. It is argued that economics & political science must recognize principles intrinsic to society & try to work within them to create policy. This process is examined in the case of rent control. 22 References. D. Dunseath.
ABSTRACTThe politics of public policy is a vibrant research area increasingly at the forefront of intellectual innovations in the discipline. We argue that political scientists are best positioned to undertake research on the politics of public policy when they possess expertise in particular policy areas. Policy expertise positions scholars to conduct theoretically innovative work and to ensure that empirical research reflects the reality they aim to analyze. It also confers important practical advantages, such as access to a significant number of academic positions and major sources of research funding not otherwise available to political scientists. Perhaps most importantly, scholars with policy expertise are equipped to defend the value of political science degrees and research in the public sphere.