This is a book about the policy process. It discusses the considerations advisers have in mind as they develop and select policy alternatives, the ways each of us might want to think about making decisions, and the lessons we should remember in order to minimize avoidable errors. In writing about his experiences in government, the classroom, and private life, Fein offers insights that apply to people responsible for decisions in many kinds of institutions, at all levels of responsibility.
His anecdotes and the situations he describes are drawn from over fifty years of experience in the policy arena. They are not intended to represent either a rounded theory about public administration or a comprehensive treatment of important components of political science. Like most people in the policy arena, Fein came to that work from another discipline-in his case economics. His experience of "finding his own way" through action and experience rather than through application of theory might appear quaint. But his successes, failures, and the lessons he learned, illuminate the process and may prove useful, even inspirational.
Fein is sensitive to the need to move beyond statistics and to present the real world and the faces of real people behind the data. He believes that an effective adviser should bring knowledge and interests that extend beyond the confines of a single discipline, even one as methodologically powerful as economics. Unless the adviser presents a range of choices that have been developed with contributions from many fields of knowledge, the proposed policies are likely to be far too constrained and, at worst, unworkable. His perspective, articulated in this book, is easily summarized: there is more to life and to our nation's welfare than economics. We live in a society, not in an economy.
1. The Time to Change the Rules is Before the Game Begins
2. The Meaning and Infl uence of Words
Words, Attitudes, and Behavior
The Impact of Unexpected Language
Same Words, but Different Meanings
Physicians and Social Scientists: A Contrast
There's Rationing and There's Rationing
3. Defining the Policy Options and Issues
Should Politics Affect Policy?
Asking the Correct Question
Some Changes Take Time
Is Everything Connected?
4. Knowing the "Other"
Learning from the "Non-Expert"
We All Play Many Roles
Comments that Increase Our Understanding
5. Four Lessons
The Known Drives Out the Abstract
Not Everyone Thinks Like an Economist
Politics Trumps Rational Economics
Keep It Simple
One Person Can Make a Difference