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"Is public policy engaged in an elusive quest?"
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"Is public policy engaged in an elusive quest?"

Carole Nyemeck picPublic policy does not always achieve the desired results, but as Carole Nyemeck, 21, a Correspondent from Yaounde in Cameroon writes, the fact remains that individuals and governments alike are policy makers with responsibility for shaping future generations.

Public policy is concerned with and applied in every single bit of society, from health to education. Policymakers are asked to identify the pressing issues and needs of society and to tackle them in the most effective ways through thoughtful, hands-on and appropriate plans of action. However, can the fair governance of the common good and the quest for socio-economic justice ever be attainable through public policies?

Thomas Paine explained the origin of governments in his book “Common  Sense” by stating that at first men and women lived without any authority. Everyone did what they wanted, and thought they need not to bother about anything. However, the population grew. The more it grew, the more differences and disunion began to unveil. Then people started understanding that they had to give their power to a legitimate body of representatives. It would be chosen among each group of people to defend their respective collective interests. That is how the idea of common good came to inhabit the daily lives of ancient people. Years ahead, the contemporary people that we are still battles with the idea of common good and socio-economic justice for all. That is what gave rise to the domain of public policy, as a supposed panacea to handle it all…

Globally, our societies have in common that in their efforts to fairly manage the common good and restate socio-economic justice they mostly implement imperfect policies and laws. Indeed, we are in a world where when you want to make justice reign, you create other injustices. In academia for instance, the affirmative action* policy that in some universities favours admission of women and minority groups as a means to redress past discriminations can become an injustice for male and non-minority applicants. On the same wavelength, the policy of preservation of African forests so that the entire world can survive environment deterioration can be an impediment to the economic development of Africa, which unlike America, Europe and even recently Asia, still needs to mobilize all its natural resources into its industrialisation and development process.

Despite all the above, the picture is not always that cloudy.

An African quote says that “Oldest marmites do the best meals”. Nevertheless, genuine and fledgling human action has purity that sometimes may produce truly outstanding meals. Indeed, the sound judgment, dedication and determination of Noah and not his experience in engineering made him build an arc that endured a rude and murdering flood. On the contrary, the builders of the Titanic were used to constructing solid and enduring ships, but the one they built with that experience sank under an iceberg. That is to say that the best and most successful policies are sometimes the ones made with the charming mix of fragility and forcefulness of fledgling, fresh and uncorrupted – yet mature – minds.

For instance, in 1961, presidential candidate John Fitzgerald Kennedy arrived at the University of Michigan’s campus on a cold October night at nearly 2 a.m. and pronounced the following campaign speech: “How many of you who are going to be doctors…are willing to spend your days in Ghana? How many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world?” That visionary speech is what gave life to the Peace Corps – a means for Americans to promote world peace and friendships through serving their country by serving abroad.

Considering these points, we can understand that public policy works for the honest governance of the common good and the attainment of socio-economic justice for all. Nonetheless, the discipline does not always produce the desired results and there is no magical formula or catholicon* for enduring solutions at the needed time in any situation. Rather, we must know that not only governments or businesses, but every single human being is a potential policymaker, beginning with their lives and those of their families.

Thus, when dealing with daily real-world policies in life we ought to keep in mind that the contribution and imprint we make has to be indelible and positively impactful for the lives of future generations, as the Peace Corps movement has been since its establishment. If perfection is an elusive quest for human nature, excellence in all we do is certainly attainable through the power and depth of dream, passion, competence, determination, perseverance, uncorruptedness and union.

References:

The free kindle ebook “Common Sense” of  Thomas Paine.

Affirmative action: a policy designed to redress past discrimination against women and minority groups through measures to improve their economic and educational opportunities

The examples of Noah and the Titanic builders were inspired by the Facebook page of the site “Demain sera un autre jour”

The example of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the Peace Corps was taken from Ejournal USA of May 2011, Volume 15 / Number 11

Catholicon: hypothetical remedy for all ills or diseases, once sought by the alchemists.

photo credit: youthpolicy.org via photopin cc

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About me: I am a student studying in Yaoundé, the political capital of the country. I am also a member of Cameroonian Student Achievers Club at the Yaoundé US Embassy, and wish to further my education in the United States.

I have always loved the media universe and its components of radio, television, newspapers and internet. However, my first professional encounter with this world came recently, when I began volunteering at Radio Maria Yaoundé.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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