Annotated References for Capital Punishment

credits to BBC Ethics Guide for the image

Apart from the relative concern on the general public’s safety and the relative significance of capital punishment to such, the author also explored the effects of capital punishment to the safety of the law enforcers and found put that contrary to old notions, capital punishment did not alleviate the atrocities and violence committed against the members of the police force. Bailey (1982) likewise mentioned no deterrent factor has been proven in the light of police killings and other violence committed against them.

The author tested the hypothesis for and against deterrence by gauging public reactions and subsequent criminal behaviors during periods where the administration of capital punishment and the debates that usually occur with it were communicated to the general public by means of print media and television. Bailey (1990) concluded that such knowledge of the execution or suspension of capital punishment does not prominently figure to the statistics on crime and thus could not be called to be an effective crime deterrent.

The author explored the results of a study on the deterrent effect of capital punishment inCaliforniafor the period of 1910 to 1962. The results, were however inconclusive and in spite of this, the state has continued to adopt the policy for capital punishment in the guise of crime deterrence. The author viewed this as most unfortunate – particularly in the event that lives are being doomed to death without ensuring that the ends for which such means are carried out were adequately met.

The author explored the dynamics of crime committed in theUnited States of Americathroughout the course of history, and how the increasing atrocities may have resulted to the growing need for a more rigid implementation of a punishment system. The development of crime would result to a better understanding on the operating principles and philosophies on crime prevention and deterrence. The factors affecting criminal behavior such as the media and public opinion likewise merited a lengthy discussion.

The book is an account of the evolution and issues surrounding death penalty in theUnited States. Apart from the deterrent effects of capital punishment, the author pointed out the dangers of a “brutalizing effect,” that is the tendency to create a culture of retaliation instead of forward looking justice and deterrence on states that opted to repay violence with equal violence and killings. The author likewise reviewed literatures on deterrence and brutalization and concluded that such measures overlap significantly on major areas. Because of this, while deterrence may effect capital punishment, its brutalizing effect could not be wholly undermined.

The authors sought to refute one of the most celebrated arguments and studies for the deterrent effect of capital punishment. For Bowers and Pierce (1975), Professor Erlich presented certain data inadequacies on his study which have lessened the integrity of the conclusions he then presented. The methods which Erlich employed in order to examine the critical variables on his previous study were evaluated and later on proved to have invalidated his conclusion. His data treatment and analysis were measured for validity and reliability and the authors concluded that such were insufficient for Erlich to have concluded that capital punishment is indeed an effective deterrent to crime.

The article is an evaluation of major econometric models employed in assessing the deterrent effects of capital punishment to crime – the most notable of which are the models proposed by Becker and Erlich. Both studies supported the deterrence hypothesis through the use of econometric modeling of crime and punishment. However, Brier and Fienberg (1980) adhered that there were considerable flaws in the empirical support presented by Becker and Erlich; as such could not be called fully reliable to prove the deterrence hypothesis.   

The authors assessed the consequences ofOklahoma’s judicial proceedings and its decision to return to the practice of capital punishment. The study revealed that though its deterrent effect are still highly debatable, brutalization figured more prominently – particularly on murder and homicides. The trends have been very observable on such offenses. While the brutalization effects appeared high on individual crimes, the disaggregation of data only confirmed these findings, making the brutalization trend observable even on a much general perspective.

The authors have explored the series of capital punishment executions and homicide rates onUnited StatesandCanadaand concluded that the conduct of death penalty does not have considerable effects on the murder and homicide rate annually. Thus, prior studies may have only used and abused available empirical evidences in order to prove the veracity of the deterrence hypothesis without examining the general aggregate data in the national sphere. As such the deterrent effect of death penalty in particular could not be conclusive in the light of national statistics and on comparative findings with other nations such asCanada.

The book provided a framework of understanding the principles and philosophies pf the abolitionist movement of death penalty in the United States of America. The author presented an overview of the struggle of the era and the symbolic implications of death penalty in the American culture and society. Through this, the reader is afforded with a general background of the prevailing rules and principles as well as areas of improvement in the struggle to promote life and liberty.

The authors sought to refute the notion that capital punishment has a deterrent effect to criminal behavior by presenting an argument that adopted the basic principles of deterrence. The article expounded that the quality of life, a criminal spends in prison has a more significant deterrent effect to crime rather than capital punishment. Through this, the authors sought to debunk the myth of deterrence in the face of capital punishment and even in the mere prospect of death.

The author explored the arbitrariness of capital punishment and its detrimental effect to the conduct of actual justice. The author shared the same belief with US Justice White in saying that death penalty could not achieve its deterrent effect because of its arbitrary quality, its randomness and the manner for which executions takes place. Because of this, while the courts may be ideally conceive as the greatest leveler of the land, it is still – ironically an institution which fosters discrimination and arbitrary sentencing, the gravest cause of which is the cold-blooded taking of an individual life.

  • O’Malley, Sean. “Capital Punishment Is Not a Deterrent.” Current Controversies: Capital Punishment. Ed. Mary E. Williams.San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2000. Opposing ViewpointsResourceCenter. Gale.09 Feb. 2010

The article talked about the myths of capital punishment and its considerable violation to the Christian values of the sanctity of human life. While the judicial points of view varied in the course of events within history, the Church remained to be a staunch advocates for life and social justice – hence the abandonment of a principle that seeks to deter crime by revenge and violence. The author likewise adhered that a state that uphold the principles of capital punishment as a deterrent measure undermines the value of life and liberty, which it had sworn to protect.

The authors likewise sought to refute Erlich’s findings on the deterrent effect of capital punishment to criminal behavior. Erlich’s study a few years ago has been a groundbreaking literature for proving that capital punishment indeed has a deterrent effect on crime. Nonetheless, the authors contended that the employment of a time-series model and the time when the study was conducted by Erlich do not provide a stable ground for arriving to such conclusion and was potentially limiting in terms of possibly exploring other facets of the policy on capital punishment.

The publication discussed the evolution of capital punishment in the American context and the divergent opinions that formed upon its infrequent enforcement. Data were likewise presented in order to point out how capital punishment has been employed to the disadvantage of black persons – in that it also discriminates harshly and often without sufficient ground or reason. Thus, while it fails to achieve the deterrent effect that capital punishment sought to achieve, it highlights discrimination and other racist conflicts in the American criminal justice system.

The author adhered that the erosion of the church influence on the affairs of the state – particularly after the Reformation period has ended its struggle, contributed to the promotion of death penalty and in conceiving such as an effective deterrent to crime. What the states which have adopted it do not realize, is that the administration of death penalty has profound implications on the value laden principles of democracy and discrimination. The author believed that with the abandonment of such values, retribution and therefore vengeance, rather than deterrence is promoted.

The author talked about the moral scruples surrounding the battle against the administration of death penalty. According to Stevenson, death penalty is rooted on the principles of anger and hopelessness – a useless retaliation for something that was lost beyond recovery, and a reinforcement of an eye for an eye doctrine, which for him, was very un-Christian and inhumane in almost all aspects conceivable. By enforcing death penalty, the offenders’ respective family was likewise victimized, and suffer undue social stigma. Because of this, the cycle of retaliation and injustices continues.

The author explored the dynamics of capital punishment in the cultural, economic and political life of the Americans. The author compared the “killing state” to a juridical Frankenstein – which in the process of seeking deterrent ways even in employing violent measures eventually created tendencies for further atrocities and the disintegration of values. The terror inflicted upon the consciousness of the victims were sought to be transferred – not only to the offenders but to their families who had to face the dire consequence of having a family member publicly executed.

The authors explored the dynamics of pro-death penalty sentiments and the issues that might have nourished or disrupted such sentiments. Their study revealed that because death penalty sentiments on theUnited States of Americarest upon their conception of justice and hence more morally founded rather than utilitarian. The authors likewise revealed that such pro-death penalty sentiments could easily be replaced by a pro-life measure if the sympathizers would be assured of swift and fair justice – such as the infliction of life imprisonment without parole and verified knowledge that death penalty is not an effective deterrent to crime.

The book explored the reasons why the United States of America continue to tinker on the prospect of capital punishment when almost all advanced European countries have ceased its implementation. The author believed that this is mainly due to the distrust of the people in the deterring capacity of the judiciary and not on mere utilitarian grounds. Aside from this, racial discrimination continues to prominently figure in the arbitrariness of criminal justice system, which forms the basic assumptions favoring death penalty.

The Irony of Equal Opportunities: The Insufficiency of Programs to Overcome Poverty in the United States of America

image credits to Dorthea Lange

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” Many people may dispute about the validity of this statement from India’s greatest man, Mahatma Gandhi – particularly when used in the context of American poverty. Indeed, one might contend that the United States of America, being one of the advanced nations of the world does not experience poverty in the same extent as that with the other developing nations of the world.

Yet, most Americans defined poverty in the manner by which several people around the world defined destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter (Rector & Johnson, 2004). Though the severity and scope of American poverty is significantly different from the third world contexts, it remains to be an insurmountable challenge to human development in the United States of America; it’s eradication remains to be an empty campaign slogan, and the programs designed to combat it seems to be always incomplete.

While government programs in the United States of America encompass comprehensive strategies in providing social safety nets for the poor, they remain insufficient measures in overcoming poverty. Changes in American demographics produce demands for social services that are incompatible with the range of welfare programs being offered by the government and social benefits become futile attempts to address disparities due to inaccurate targeting and under-coverage (Curie, 2004).

Using this framework, the researcher will be examining the dynamics of poverty in the United States of America and evaluate whether US government programs sufficiently address the complex requirements for poverty alleviation. This paper will look at the dynamics of American poverty, the interplay of several factors in the economy and society, and the government’s role in ensuring that its citizens are provided with the social benefits of its citizenry. Should a society – in spite of the progress that it has achieved in the realms of scientific and social development, endure its fateful co-existence with the poor? The researcher will strive to answer this question in this paper.

Poverty – as defined by the Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English is the state of being extremely poor. This evidently falls short if one is to look upon the extent for which being “extremely poor” has been implied. According to Eluerkeh (2004) in a paper presented at the World Bank Video Conference on Poverty Reduction, poverty does not only consist of the economic facet – but of generally wider aspects of human development pertaining health, politics and education. In the context of the United States of America, where democracy has enabled people from all statures of life to capably exercise their political rights, this paper will thus be focused on examining poverty in the economic, health and educational aspects and the programs that seek to address them.

The medium for which the services are carried out is most commonly referred as the welfare system. In the American vocabulary however, welfare was often limited with the public assistance to mothers with dependent children (Geary, 2003). This paper will therefore be transcending this definition and discuss about the collection of different programs that address the areas of health, unemployment insurance, pensions, social security, and family support in the United States of America. While several European countries adopted the idea of the welfare state and are presently working within a socially democratic framework of social service provision, the American Welfare system is still developing, less extensive, haphazardly constructed, and reliant upon dispersed authority (Geary, 2003).

The Economic and Social Measures of American Poverty

The welfare system in the United States of America evolved from a residual framework to combat the ill effects of the Great Depression in the previous era. Government welfare was also connected with race and culture and has characteristically attributed poverty to the moral failings of the individual (Geary, 2003). There was also a delineation of the benefits being received – based on the merit of being deserving or not in a given program framework. Social insurance became safety net measures for those who may be facing emergencies such as unemployment and those who have retired and receiving pension in their old age. Public assistance, however, became the government’s response for those who do not fall within the category of social insurance – the major recipients of which are dependent children and women, who may be further marginalized by racial discrimination and unemployment.

In the economic perspective, wealth and poverty are measured according to income, assets, and socioeconomic metrics – human development aspects such as nutrition, infant mortality, sanitation, etc. (Gorman, 2003). In this aspect, the poor are being identified through the use of poverty threshold, a point of measurement which indicates the boundaries between the poor and non-poor. While the basic need for shelter, decent food and clothing, access to health care and education may be an indication of being non-poor in the usual third world context, such does not become and automatic indicator of poverty in the United States of America. Income inequality is a major economic issue for several developed nations and has been attributed as one of the primary causes of poverty.

Income inequality, according to Gorman (2003) is the disparity of income among individuals and households in a given economy. As a developed nation, the United States is also beset with issues on income inequality. Yet, like the third world nations, it is still struggling to provide the very basic public assistance to those who need it – food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid, and compulsory public education. Thus, while the American society is considered to be one of the most powerful forces of the world to reckon with, its welfare system remains to be dismally mediocre, compared with its European counterparts. The glaring example of this is the life of the rural poor of Appalachia extensively documented by Cynthia Duncan (1999) in her book entitled Worlds Apart: Why Poverty Persists in Rural America. As Duncan (1999) pointed in one of her interviews:

“These histories of underinvestment, which most Americans would not want to see today, are now still playing out in contemporary isolation for poor people, preventing them from being able to get together what it takes to be part of the mainstream. The adults are under-educated, the institutions are poor and inadequate to make up for what families do not offer young people, and everyday life for these kids is just plain hard (Frontline, 2005).”

Ultimately, the economic issues of poverty spell the quality of life in the United States. There are plenty of studies that reveal how poverty has a direct correlation with crime, dysfunctional families, poor health, drug addiction, illiteracy and the continuing cycle of destitution. The social repercussions of poverty are hard to manage and as such, welfare systems need to be instituted: their sufficiency, however, remains to be a vision that is yet to be realized.

Intergenerational Poverty and Its Effects to the US Society

According to a study published by the Friends Committee in National legislation in 2009, there are 37 million people in the United State who are living at or below the federal poverty line. This involves children and grown-ups, who subsist below the average daily requirement for living and are dependent from government support. Because poor people generally have lower productivity than the non-poor (Holzer, Schanzenbach, Duncan & Ludwig, 2007), the 37 million people already represents a social loss in terms of economic and human potentials. One could only imagine these figures further rise up, when given the lack of social opportunities and access to education and basic services, the children out of the 37 million figure grow up to be poor as well, raise children in the same condition and be deprived of the same social and economic opportunities.

While economic and social deprivation runs counter to the moral principles of liberalism and democracy, it is an undeniable fact that the amount that the United States of American government allocates for poverty alleviation and prevention figures less than the cost of not addressing poverty (Holzer, Schanzenbach, Duncan & Ludwig, 2007). As a matter of fact, the government loses about $500 billion a year for not adequately investing on social programs that would address child poverty alone – an equivalent of nearly 4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (Holzer, Schanzenbach, Duncan & Ludwig, 2007). This is a vital point – for it reveals much on the government’s real commitment in bringing about a desired change in the social condition of its people.

The Government’s Response

The US government institutes four basic programs in order to combat inequality and poverty among households. These include progressive income tax, public assistance programs, economic development programs and economic management measures (Gorman, 2003). The income taxes that people pay are based on incomes. Thus those who earn more pay more taxes. In this manner, the resources are re-distributed to the poor through the form of public assistance and social insurance programs. Economic development programs on the other hand, are government interventive services to small business – particularly those women-owned businesses. These programs also include training unskilled workers and development of enterprise zones that would encourage small merchants to start their own businesses (Gorman, 2003). While economic management does not directly benefit the poor, unemployment issues are generally addressed and prevented through a sound economic management.

Poverty alleviation also encompasses several methods such as education, social work, community organizing and legislation. In spite of this, the United States provides significantly lower level of government support than most developed European nations. This may be founded on the ideologies of governments for which the welfare systems are evidently based. In the European nations for instance, welfare is conceived in a social democratic framework of the acceptance of the need to provide a buffer for people who may be vulnerable to the ill effects of capitalism. In the neo-conservative and libertarian framework that is prominent in the US democratic society however, the people are conceived as the authors of their own destiny and that while democracy allows for “equal opportunities,” the failure of an individual to meet his/ her primary requirements is basically attributed to his/ her own doing and not as a state responsibility. While social supports such as food stamps, cash assistance and health insurance have been proven to promote the basic needs of the poor for public assistance, there is a need to further streamline the service delivery mechanisms and improve the framework for which these services are carried out. As a democratic country that is anchored in the main philosophies of liberalism, the people should be given sufficient rights to participate in the planning and implementing of the services that they need in order to transform them – from being mere recipients of benefits but as individuals who are self-determined to elevate their own status in the society. Apart from this, there is a need to improve targeting mechanisms to ensure that the people who really need the assistance would be the recipients of services (Curie, 2004). America does not need to adopt the social democratic ideals of its European nations, it only needs to truly practice the real essence of democracy and mobilize the people in order to help them help themselves.


In spite of the government efforts to alleviate poverty, the growing needs of the changing demographics remain to be inconsistent with the programs being implemented. This may be attributed by the lack of government intervention in key areas of poverty prevention such as in the child welfare and community organizing setting and the state’s incognizance of the fact that intergenerational poverty generates a substantial loss to the US economy and society. While some may attribute it to political will, the researcher believes that it is hinged upon the democratic ideology of the United States of America as a nation. Because the United States recognizes the promotion of equal opportunities for all, it automatically believes in the assumption that the failings of an individual may be attributed to his/ her own shortcomings and not on the inability of the state to institute the necessary welfare mechanism. However, this could be overcome by practicing the principles for which liberalism is founded that is – truly making an avenue for equal opportunity and by empowering the people make their own choices in the areas of welfare. Through this, the people will no longer be mere recipients of social services but the government’s partner for poverty alleviation.

Annotated Bibliography of Three Sources

—- (July 2004). “Poverty, The Distribution of Income and Public Policy.” Ed: A.J. Auerbach, D. Card, & J.M. Quigley. University of California, Berkeley. Accessed 26 January 2010 from

The editors of the paper combined poverty studies of authors from the University of California, Berkeley in order to present an integrated view of the developments of anti-poverty measures in the United States of America. The authors discussed issues regarding targeting mechanisms employed during welfare provision, its impact to the achievement of goals, the reasons behind the prevalence of poverty in the United States of America and the economic patterns of income and wealth among the rich as one the fundamental reasons of income inequality. While the authors believe that there is a need to further strengthen America’s welfare system, they also illustrate several programs that were able to achieve its targets notwithstanding the socioeconomic conditions of the given periods.

Gorman, T. (2003). The Complete Idiots Guide to Economics. New York: Alpha Books

The author provides the book with easy-to-understand, uncomplicated and well-defined concepts of poverty in the economic context. The author adhered that as a developed nation, the United States of America’s main reason for poverty lies on the income inequalities prevalent among capitalist economies. The author likewise stressed the major programs of the nation in responding to the complications brought by poverty and income inequality. The author’s explanations, however, remained to be centered on the economic facet of poverty and not on other social preconditions that correspond with it. The author concludes that the economic needs of the people are dependent upon the way they perceive their quality of life – that is to meet the basic requisites of living and at the same time allow for some surplus resources for safety and security measures.

Holtzer, H., Schanzenbach, D.W., Duncan, G., & Ludwig, J. (24 January 2007). “The Economic Costs of Poverty: Subsequent Effects of Children Growing Up Poor.” Center for American Progress. Accessed 26 January 2010 from

The study explored the direct relationship of poverty to the loss of individual and economic potentials among children as they grow up. The authors discussed the likelihood of the poor children to be involved in illicit activities, to be uneducated and to be deprived of the right to equal opportunity employment compared to the non-poor ones. To this end, the authors adhered that the government must undertake the necessary means to provide preventive anti-poverty measures in order to offset the projected social and economic costs due to the resulting intergenerational poverty. The authors concluded that it is the moral obligation of the state – as a country that believes on the equal opportunity for all to undertake the necessary steps to address poverty among children.

List of References

—- (27 July 2009). “Understanding Poverty in the U.S.: A Social Witness Toolkit. Friends Committee on National Legislation. Accessed 26 January 2010 from

—- (2009). “Poverty.” The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. Accessed 26 January 2010 from

—- (July 2004). “Poverty, The Distribution of Income and Public Policy.” Ed: A.J. Auerbach, D. Card, & J.M. Quigley. University of California, Berkeley. Accessed 26 January 2010 from

Eleurkeh, E. (26 March 2004). “Fighting Poverty in Ghana: The Past, Present and Future.” Paper presented at the World Bank Video Conference on Poverty Reduction. The Citizen-University of Ghana.

Frontline. (29 December 2005) “Why Poverty Persists in Appalachia: An Interview with Cynthia M. Duncan.” Country Boys Frontline. Accessed 26 January 2010 from

Geary, D. (2003). “Welfare System.” Dictionary of American History. The Gale Group Inc. Accessed 26 January 2010 from

Gorman, T. (2003). The Complete Idiots Guide to Economics. New York: Alpha Books

Holtzer, H., Schanzenbach, D.W., Duncan, G., & Ludwig, J. (24 January 2007). “The Economic Costs of Poverty: Subsequent Effects of Children Growing Up Poor.” Center for American Progress. Accessed 26 January 2010 from

Rector. R.E., & Johnson, K. A. (05 January 2004). “Understanding Poverty in America.” The Heritage Foundation. Accessed 26 January 2010 from

The Center for American Progress Task on Poverty. (25 April 2007). “From Poverty to Prosperity: A National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half.” Center for American Progress. Accessed 26 January 2010 from

The Ideology of American Democracy

Image credits to Relativity Online

“The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other – until one day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology” (Ayn Rand, 1967)

Indeed, ideologies – from the neo-conservative wing of democracy to one which is fundamentally liberal in nature have been subject of harsh criticisms and analysis throughout the course of history. From the founding of democracy to the present milestones of the American presidency, ideologies prominently figured with the events that transpired and the policies that have been adopted or discarded. The meanings that have been ascribed to them could not be undermined, as they became crucial determinants of the political system of a country. As a nation represented by several ideological views on democracy and liberalism, the United States of America has never been an exception to this rule.

Mansfield (1993) pointed out that policy processes in the three governing bodies of American democracy – the executive, legislative and even the judiciary is influenced by a variety of existing ideological traditions. The influence of such has been very notable, that as ideologies became the core principles for action, the promotion of virtue and self-sacrifice for the common good became the dominant philosophy of the American culture (Pocock, 1975).

According to Smith (1988), there are three political philosophies in the United States: republican, liberal and ascriptive. While the republican and liberal ideologies carried contending philosophies and principles, the ascriptive ideology is an opposition to racial and sexual hierarchies that have been found to be the bane of the two aforementioned ideologies. These three contending ideologies form part of the arguments and discord of the United States political system in the carrying out of national and even foreign policies.

Indeed, the war that has been waged after the September 11 bombing might have taken a different turn if the Bush Presidency decided to abandon its neo-conservative ideology aspirations. Isn’t President Obama being criticized for allegedly adopting European social democratic ideology on welfare provision, with the advancement of the US National Health Care Policy? The ideological stances of the government dictates the policies being enacted and sometimes, such stances result to bickering and efficiencies, particularly if the majority pushes for a goal that is not compatible with the opposing party’s ideals and aspirations. Ideological polarization often produces more “gridlocks” on pressing policy issues than ordinary political party subdivisions (Sundsquit, 1989).

Spaeth and Segal (1999) added that though the judiciary should be highly impartial on policy matters and issues, judges are still being influenced by their ideological preferences more than by their legal principles. This study has been corroborated by actual documentation of evidences where the votes of justices in the US Supreme Court became an adequate reflection of their personal ideologies (Segal and Spaeth, 1999). This may prove to be somewhat disconcerting – as judges should be nonaligned and that legal principles should always take precedent over personal issues and preferences, for it is with them that laws are interpreted and carried out.

Political parties represent these ideologies in the US Political System. Often it can be seen, how candidates from opposing parties differ on their opinions on certain key issues of the United States affairs. Where a candidate pushes for war, its opponent pushes for reconciliation; such opposing beliefs and opinions are all hinged on the ideological system that the party has adopted. As aforementioned, the liberal framework has a significant difference from the republican, even if in essence, their goals are almost similar. These seemingly “epic” conflicts become one of the key reasons for inefficiencies – particularly during instances when the political party of the head of state is not similar with that of the legislative majority.

Indeed, though critics may question the extent for which these political parties uphold upon their respective ideologies in the face of the United State’s political system, one could not deny the fact that these ideologies are highly stable (Gerring, 1998) and have been able to brave and transcend the criticisms and emerging political thoughts in the course of history – an indication, not of rigidity, but of a lasting belief on democracy and everything that it represents.


Gerring, John. (1998). Party Ideologies in America, 1828-1996. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Mansfield, Harvey. (1993). America’s Constitutional Soul. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.

Pocock, J.G.A. (1975). The Machiavellian Moment. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Rand, Ayn. (1967). Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal. USA: New American Library

Smith, Rogers. (1988). “Political Jurisprudence, the New Institutionalism, and the Future of Public Law.” American Political Science Review. 82: 89-108.

Spaeth, Harold, and Jeffrey Segal. (1999). Majority Rule or Minority Will: Adherence to Precedent in the U.S. Supreme Court. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sundquist, James. (1983). Dynamics of the Party System. Washington DC: Brookings

The Development of Infrastructures in Canada and Germany in the context of their Respective Political and Economic Ideals

credits to Wikimedia Commons

Canada is a confederate constitutional monarchy. Germany is federal democratic republic. Though these two countries seem to be worlds apart in terms of their respective governments, their liberalistic ideals bear some resemblances. Indeed such ideals were adequately represented – not only through their culture and way of life, but basically through the monuments and infrastructures which they have established. Such infrastructures as one would later on see are anchored on their respective national identity and on their striving to gain international prominence. Both countries were leaders of trade liberalization. As such, almost all aspects of the industry – particularly in the areas of transportation and communication are geared towards the provision and maintenance of their respective economic engines.

However, if one would examine infrastructures not merely on economic terms but on certain social dimensions as well, the difference between the two countries are very evident. Canada’s definition of critical infrastructures are those of “serious impact on the health, safety, security, or economic well-being of Canadians or the effective functioning of governments in Canada” (Gordon & Dizon, 2008), while Germany spoke of “significant disruptions to public order or other dramatic consequences” (Gordon & Dizon, 2008). Hence, it could be deduced that the Canadian rationale for building infrastructures rests on the welfare and the well-being of its citizens, while the German definition banks on the perpetuation of the existing social order. Canadian infrastructures were people oriented, whilst its German counterparts are system oriented.Canada has a somewhat social democratic view of governance, whileGermany is largely neo-conservative if not libertarian in nature. This is a crucial point, for apart from the economic purposes of the infrastructures; the social dimensions would further provide the reader with a knowing grasp and even better understanding of the choices and decisions that these countries make in their pursuit of infrastructure development today and in the future years. Through this understanding, one would gain further insight – if not the ability to foresee and anticipate the infrastructure commitments that these two countries would make in the near future.

According to the survey results published by the Mercer group of companies in April 2009, Munich, Germany ranked second in terms of infrastructure development in relation to the standard of living among the cities of the world; Frankfurt Germany was ranked eighth – thus making two cities of Germany included in the top 5 cities in Europe in terms of infrastructure development. On the other hand,Vancouver,Canadaranked sixth,MontrealCanadaranked fifteenth andTorontoranked eighteenth. These cities likewise belong to the top 5 cities in theAmericasin the survey results. Thus, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that both infrastructure development measures undertaken by both countries have considerably advanced the people’s quality of living, at least within the specified cities in the survey.

Canada is one of the largest countries of the world – second only toRussia. Thus, it possesses the territorial advantage over a vast array of resources, necessary to promote development. While the country started as a largely agricultural nation, its shift towards industrialization was marked with an almost insignificant struggle – compared to whatGermanyhad gone through. Indeed, with the skillful use of its inherent advantages,Canadagained prominence, and its stable economic and social partnerships with theUnited States of America further secured its position as one of the leading countries in the world.Germany, on the other hand had to face the seemingly insurmountable challenges following its reunification in 1990. The unitedGermanyhad to build infrastructures in the West that would serve as replacements of the old and largely war-ravaged buildings and at the same time take into consideration the largely unutilized grand infrastructures in the former East. Thus, twenty years ago, the German republic called for major investments in the building, dismantling and maintenance of infrastructures on both sides – a time whenCanadawas already very stable (Infrastructure Canada, 2009).

Germany’s water systems are built and designed in anticipation of continued economic and industrial growth – an optimistic assumption and a relevant one, ifGermany’s industrial and technological advancement would be taken into account. Yet, this anticipation posed a challenge of significant underutilization of waste and water supply infrastructures, particularly on areas where population growth are relatively small (InfrastructureCanada, 2009).

Canadadid not adopt the same optimistic anticipation in terms of its water and waste-water systems.Canadaadopted theUnited States of America’s water systems, thus making such infrastructures regionalized. This enabled for increased flexibility and as such, underutilization did not pose as a major problem.

Land Transport

Germanyoccupies a strategic location inEuropein terms of land transportation. Indeed,Germanystepped up in its aspect, with the establishment of modern transportation networks (Encyclopedia of the Nations, n.d.).Germanyprides itself with the most advanced service high-speed trains that run along major German cities and neighboring countries as well. Heavy investments on transportation and communication enabled the half side ofGermanyto be significantly developed in line with the achievements of its other half. In 2000,Germanyhas 12,000 kilometers of motorways and its further development facilitatesGermany’s pursuit on integrating into the world market. The Deutsche Bahn AG (DBAG) was privatized in 1994, but the operations still rest upon government subsidies until the present times (Encyclopedia of the Nations, n.d.).

On the other hand,Canadahas 36,114 kilometers of railways and 2 transcontinental systems (Encyclopedia of the Nations, n.d.). A year after privatizingGermany’s national carrier, Canadian National – the country’s freight carrier was also privatized in 1995. However, the transport system remained to be under the shared control of private and government institutions. WhileGermany’s high-speed service trains help facilitate the country’s business doings with its neighboring countries in Europe,Canada’s railway systems are likewise integrated into its biggest neighboring country – theUnited States of Americawhich facilitatesCanada’s exports of goods to theUnited States of Americaevery year.

Frankfurt andMunichairports inGermanyranked among the top ten international airports in the European Union. While the German government already relinquished control of Lufthansa – its national air carrier and among the world leaders in the airline industry to the states of European Union, its dominant positions were managed to remain onGermany’s internal routes (Encyclopedia of Nations, n.d.) in spite of the liberalization of air transportation in the European Union.Germany’s busiest airports are the Rhein-Main airport outside of Frankfurt, the airports inMunich,Cologne-Bonn,Berlin-Tegel,Dusseldorf, andHamburg. Owing to the liberalization of air transports, federal city governments have already sold their shares in major airports to private enterprises.

As with Germany to the rest of the European Union, Canada likewise enjoys unrestricted access to the air space of theUnited States of America. Air Canadais the nation’s major airline and flag carrier and controls 80 percent of the Canadian domestic market (Encyclopedia of Nations, n.d.).

For Germany, marine transport grew heavily on the purpose of the transfer of cheaper raw materials and coals to major industrial centers. Because of this, several river ports were built in order to facilitate such transfers throughout the course of history. These major ports are in Duisburg, Cologne, Bonn, Mannheim, and Karlsruhe (Encyclopedia of Nations, n.d.).

For the same reasons, waterways were built aroundCanada. At present however, the nation relies on pipelines to deliver fuel and energy across the United Statesand back toCanada. The Saint Lawrence Seaway inCanadafacilitates ocean-going vessels from the Atlantic to ports such as Chicago and Ontario(Encyclopedia of Nations, n.d.).Canada’s major ports includeMontreal,Halifax,Quebec,Toronto,Saint John,Windsor, Thunderbay andVancouver.

While Germany is presently undertaking measures in order to curb down its importation of energy resources through the use of renewable energies, Canada is mainly an energy exporter of oil and natural gas. The German government has undertaken the project of phasing out all nuclear power plants by 2021 due to environmental concerns. This may prove to be possible considering Germany’s accomplishments in 2007 – when with the massive campaign, the share for the consumption of renewable energy have rapidly increased to 14 percent, just seven years after making the said commitment. Such accomplishment was monumental for a country that has learned to rely heavily on oil and nuclear energy sources.

Germany is among the world’s leaders in telecommunications (Encyclopedia of Nations, n.d.) and has undertaken further investments in the areas of information and communication technology like the developed nations in Europe, Asia andNorth America. In 2008, Chancellor Merkel announced that the nation would be undergoing two phases of providing accessibility to internet to all households and communities in the entireGermany. This was similarly aimed byCanada, by investing into information and communications technology to ensure that even the remotest communities would be able to have access to the internet. Such undertakings significantly contribute to the milestones of e-commerce and internet accessibility in the world.

Taking the aforementioned infrastructure details into account, it could thus be concluded that both countries – though not even trying to outdo each other developed into becoming two of the most prominent countries in terms of infrastructure and development.Canada, with its vast array of resources, partnership with the one of the world’s leading powers, theUnited States of America, and with such excellent governance, has been able to take advantage of its resources to pursue development and become the country with one of the best-developed infrastructures of the world. True enough, the state has invested $12 billion worth of funding for two years in the pursuit of the research, development and establishment of new infrastructure stimulus and is presently striving for connectedness in the face of information and communication technology in order to bridge the gaps within communities and achieve the goals of a socially democratic welfare. On the other hand,Germany– in spite of the setbacks that it has encountered in the past, was able to achieve so much infrastructure development in the name of patriotism and in ensuring that it would no longer succumb to the encroachment that it has experienced in the past years. With its bouncing back comes a new goal for social order and a new adherence to liberalist principles. Through its infrastructures,Germanyhas made a statement of readiness to be integrated as a nation of the world. Through its infrastructures,Germanywas able to prove that every nation – in spite of the atrocities that it has experienced or may have been committed, would be able to bounce back and become a major economic force.


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