Try a Policymaking Simulation from “Voice of the People”

Government Policymaking Simulations

This is very cool. Voice of the People (VOP) has prepared policymaking simulations. I just went through the Social Security Reform simulation, and new policymaking simulations are coming soon:

  • Postal Service Reform
  • The Federal Budget

An Informative Process

The process is very informative. “All of the materials have been reviewed by experts and congressional staffers, both Democrats and Republicans, so you can be assured that it is factual and balanced.”

First, you get a background briefing on the policy. Then, you see the proposals that Congress is considering, with pros and cons, and you weigh the merit of each proposal. Finally, you select a package of reforms that you think is best.

In the case of the Social Security Reform simulation, I could see how each of my policy choices impacted the Social Security shortfall, up or down. At the end I was given the option to choose “other ways” of balancing the shortfall. There were four ways offered. It seemed a no-brainer to check boxes for:

  • Reduce Department of Defense expenditures
  • Increase Corporate taxes.

The point is, VOPs policymaking simulations embrace a great deal of flexibility, and are realistic. You experience what it is like to grapple with tough policy decisions.

Contact Your Elected Officials

After you finish the policymaking simulation, you are smoothly given the chance to share your thoughts about the policy with your own elected officials. This is perfect – now you better understand the policy, and have the issues fresh in your brain. (Plus, VOP fills in the addresses for you.)

Outstanding Tools

The VOP policymaking simulations are outstanding tools. They go beyond information. They challenge you to think. Every social science teacher should assign the policymaking simulations to students!

The policymaking simulations are also practical. They lay a solid foundation for a dream that VOP hopes to implement: National Citizen Cabinets.

National Citizen Cabinets

Here’s the dream:

Citizens will be scientifically selected to be representative of each jurisdiction and will be connected through an online interface. Each Citizen Cabinet member will serve for 9-12 months, and Internet access will be provided to those who do not already have it.

On a regular basis, members of the Citizen Cabinet will go through an online public consultation exercise – called a ‘policymaking simulation’ because it simulates the process elected officials go through — on a pressing issue facing the federal government. For each issue, Citizen Cabinet members will:

  • Get unbiased background information reviewed by experts and congressional staff from both parties
  • Hear competing policy options that are actually on the table and evaluate the strongest pro and con arguments
  • Choose from a menu of policy options or go through an in-depth prioritization process that requires making trade-offs, such as creating a budget

Finally, the Citizen Cabinets’ recommendations will be reported to their corresponding Members of Congress, the President, the news media and the public.

VOP: The Solution

 

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