Politics: the Collective Action Principle

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It has always been said that politics is messy. The Collective Action Principle explains ‘that political action is collective, involving the building, combining, mixing, and amalgamating of people’s individual goals’, (Lowi et al. 2010:13). The more people you have trying to come to a conclusion about a situation, the more difficult it will be given the fact that each person has an opinion. Changing opinions is difficult, therefore bargaining is required. Compromise, good ole’ fashioned give and take, is at the heart of Congress today. The Collective Action Principle could not be seen any clearer than in the debt ceiling debate in Congress that led to the forming of the ‘Super Committee’ designed to bring the national deficit down.

This past summer, the country was facing what many households have been facing for some time now, hitting the debt ceiling. This would have meant that the country was no longer able to pay its bills and would take a serious hit on its credit rating. The Daily Ticker, (a news group for Yahoo finance), put it in better terms. ‘Think of the debt ceiling like the government’s credit card limit… and it’s maxed out.’ So what is the solution? Many democrats felt it was an easy one, just up our ‘credit limit’ as we have in the past, (this would mean higher taxes, basically the government’s paycheck). Republicans did not agree. Instead, the House, (predominantly controlled by Republicans with the Senate being mostly Democratic), proposed that in order to raise our debt ceiling, we needed to find a way to not hit it again. This could be done by making cuts within our budget. The biggest question was where to make those cuts and if taxes needed to be raised. After all, when you are in a huge amount of debt, do you cut your personal spending or give yourself a pay raise? Everyone came to a collective action agreement after a great deal of debate: Increase the debt ceiling and make plans to cut the budget afterwards to avoid taking a hit to our...
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