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Public Administration in 2040 — Can You See It?

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Marvin N. Pichla
July 21, 2023

As a career-long public administrator, one of the most impactful “side-line” professional responsibilities I have been involved in is teaching a college freshman-level American Government & Politics class. This opportunity has allowed me to pass along valuable information regarding the privilege of being a U.S. citizen and at the same time learn more about each student’s position on challenges facing our public administration sector. Impressively, no two class discussions are ever same and logically unique public administration topics always vary with each semester.

One of the most insightful moments of every class is the preparation for and student completion of the final exam. It is important to note that my exam essay questions are not at all “traditional”. Rather each question forces students to address a certain government and politics challenge and take a stand on resolving/improving the issue. This year the most enlightening exam question asked was: “What will be some of the major government and politics (i.e. public administration) issues facing the nation in the year 2040?”. As you can guess, their answers were unique but direct. Hence, for ASPA membership everywhere, I felt it valuable to share some of their thoughts in this article. Their responses truly reflect a youthful, grass-roots perspective.

#1:  Younger Voter Participation

One of the more common 2040 concerns addressed by many students was the continuing “weak” participation of young adults (i.e. ages 18-25) in standard elections. This issue was part of many class discussions and included the following rationales. Young adults:

  • Aren’t informed enough about vote critical topics
  • Believe not voting is a form of voting
  • Only participate in voting if the ballot has a topic that is personally relevant to them

Also, please note that every class is informed that extra points may be awarded based on creative solutions to 2040 issues. As a result, here are a few of their Younger Voter Participation corrective action recommendations:

  • Make every election day a national/state holiday
  • Offer a special tax credit for voting
  • Mandate attendance at a U.S. “citizenship responsibilities” workshop every ten (10) years

#2:  Greater National Fiscal Integrity

It was impressive to read the views put forth by students regarding the need for Congress, the President and every voting citizen to aggressively deal with the nation’s huge debt. Personal responsibility was a term used by many as they stressed the urgency to somehow attain a balanced 2040 U.S. budget. Party politics was not considered an acceptable excuse for the ever-growing debt nor the absence of a common sense approach for this long-term challenge.

Some of the non-traditional suggestions offered by test-takers to improve Greater National Fiscal Integrity included:

  • Place a Greater National Fiscal Integrity question on the ballot (even before 2040) that would require a funding reduction percent be applied to every federal department every year until the debt was eliminated.
  • Offer the richest U.S. citizens a special recognition (U.S. HERO) award of some type if they donated a large sum of money to be used only to pay down the debt.
  • Also place a question on the national ballot to require every voting citizen to donate five (5) dollars per year at tax time to be applied only for U.S. debt elimination.

#3:  Creation of an Independent Political Party

During regular class periods as students assessed, debated and future-thought about government and politics in the year 2040, concerns about party politics was a priority concern. Considerations about options for improving the divided status of our Democrat versus Republican party system were very much a piece of every students 2040 test question response. Frustration and disappointment were the center point of their answer essays. And unfortunately the shortest part of all answers were ideas of possible “fixes” surrounding this major continuing disappointing situation.

The single high-value improvement suggestion to the current two-party political systems dominance in the United States was Creation of an Independent Political Party. This recommendation first required that the new party be created by several celebrities from the acting, sports, high-tech and military sectors. Their “common voice” philosophy would be that everyone should vote as an “independent” and thereby vote based on candidates and their view on issues… and NOT party influence. The students’ ultimate suggestion was to eliminate all political parties.

#4:  United Nations CRITICAL COMMONS

Foreign policy was the last major topic stressed by students responding to my final exam American Government & Politics (public administration) issues in the year 2040 question. Most recommended that the United States become a leader in facilitating a movement within the United Nations organization that focuses only on what they called CRITICAL COMMONS! International Economies, Energy, Health and Security were their CRITICAL COMMON areas. Their responses indicated that the United States could be the “champion” of these U.N. CRITICAL COMMONS by 2040 and beyond. The goal would be universal support for areas that would benefit all.

I believe we have qualified leaders growing in our young adults. Their thoughts re-enforce my belief!

Author: Marvin N. Pichla, Ph.D., is the owner and creative adviser of Inspiring Innovations, Inc. Sharing his unique entrepreneurship and innovation in public service experience, Marv consults with public and private business, education and community organizations to develop new and different problem-solving methods through real-life, example-based learning.

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