The first limitation is the perceived value of an idea for a public policy creation or change. In other words, if the community (or at least a large portion of it) does not see the value of the idea there is very little chance that the idea will become public policy - even if it could have helped a large number of people (Audretsch, Gilbert, & McDougall, 2004). While that is not the only limitation of ideas for public policy, it is one of the strongest. In order for the policy to be modified or created, the idea to do so must get off the ground and have support behind it. That support has to come from the community and also from the political agents who are entrusted with representing the people in that community (Cohen, 2012).
Another way the policy idea can be limited is through a lack of funding. All policy creation takes money along with time and effort. If there are no funds to enact or carry out the public policy, it will not be created and no one will benefit from it (Audretsch, Grilo, & Thurik, 2007; Blyth, 2002). There are many ways in which funding for a public policy desire can be collected, depending on the policy itself and the interest of the people in the community. Some policy ideas are very simple and easy to handle, and other policy ideas require thousands or even millions of dollars, along with long periods of time to construct new facilities or design other avenues for the community (Audretsch, Gilbert, & McDougall, 2004; Losco, 2010; Newton & Van Deth, 2005). Ideas for public policy are limited not just by the ideas themselves, but by the desire of the public to put those ideas into action. In that context, much of whether an idea becomes public policy is related to how that idea is marketed to those who are able to make such decisions (Audretsch, Gilbert, & McDougall, 2004).
For people who care about others, public policy is a serious issue. The limitations that are placed on the ideas that can change and create public policy are significant, because they can hold back change that is strongly needed in certain communities (Schmidt, Bardes, & Shelley, 2011; Sharma & Sharma, 2000). Not all ideas are a good choice, however. Some are targeted toward special interest groups and those who feel as though they are entitled so something. These ideas, if turned into policy, fail to help those who really need it and instead focus on those who already have much or all of what they need and want - and sometimes those who have these things in abundance (Audretsch, Gilbert, & McDougall, 2004). Overall, the main limitation of ideas for public policy is that some of the individuals who suggest those ideas are interested only in what they can get for themselves and not what they can offer to other people who need assistance (Audretsch, Gilbert, & McDougall, 2004; Losco, 2010; Schmidt, Bardes, & Shelley, 2011). When personal interests are fostered above and beyond the needs of the community, all related public policy ideas suffer.
Public policy ideas can be good or bad, strong or weak, and they can be highly valuable or not actually offer much to society. The differences come from the ideas, but also from the way people perceive those ideas and what they feel the creators of the ideas can do for them. If an idea has merit, it moves forward and gains support. However, even some ideas that do have merit do not move forward or get the support they need because they are not seen as valuable enough to the right sectors of society. Helping people is part of what public policy does, but there is not time or money to help everyone who actually needs it. While unfortunate, that is the way of the world. The best public policy ideas are those that address the largest number of people and provide them with the highest degree of help or assistance. Public policies that do not offer that kind of support often fall by the wayside, or they are changed and adjusted at a later date because they are not successful.
With the strengths and limitations of various public policy ideas, there are many ways in which they can move forward to the point of being enacted. Once the policies are part of the law of the community, they can be repealed or changed if they are not found to be effective. This occurs with some policies, because they do not provide the level of care of a specific group of citizens that was anticipated when they were created. For these policies, the strengths were overestimated and the weaknesses did not come out properly until the policies were already enacted and in use. Trial and error is not the best choice for public policy, but sometimes it is necessary in order to ensure that the policies are as concise and appropriate as possible. This is why new ideas are always being addressed for public policy, so that important changes can be made as needed.
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Newton, K. & Van Deth, J.W. (2005). Foundations of comparative politics. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.