Political Science 241

   The Politics of


       Mondays & Wednesdays, 12:30-1:45
       224 Social Sciences B


    Professor Dave Robertson, 800 Tower

    Phone 314.516.5855   /   Fax 314.516.7236  / 

    email  daverobertson@umsl.edu



What Is The Course About? /  BooksHow To Get A Good GradeExams / QuizzesParticipationThe Briefing Papers
Detailed Course ScheduleCritical Thinking SkillsPolitical Economy Bibliography

1. What is this Course About?

From the nation's beginning, Americans have clashed over the government's role in our economy. Today, regulation affects Americans from cradle to grave, including health, wealth, freedom and security. Hundreds of controversies shape American business regulation: from Enron to auto pollution, work injuries, home safety, smoking, drinking, Internet privacy, and music downloads. This course explores the way that business, other interests, Congress, the president, agencies, courts and state officials engage in economic and social regulation, and the impact of their efforts. The course is guided by these fundamental questions:

q       Why do we have regulations? Who wanted them in the first place?

q       Who wants regulations now?

q       What do we regulate, why, and how?

q       Who does the regulating? Who is held responsible?

q       Who benefits from regulation? Who gets hurt?

q       How would you make challenging decisions about regulation if you could?

q       How would regulation fit into a newer and better future?

2. Required Books

Four books and some case studies are required reading for the course

3. How to Get a Good Grade

The grade for the course will be determined in the following way:

Participation constitutes 10% of the final grade
Exam 1 constitutes 15% of the final grade
Exam 2 constitutes 15% of the final grade
Exam 3 constitutes 20% of the final grade
Quizzes on the 4 case studies each constitute 5% of the final grade

The Tobacco case briefing paper constitutes 10% of the final grade

The Tobacco case debriefing paper constitutes 10% of the final grade

NOTE: You are not are NOT competing with other students for a grade. There is no curve in this course. Each student can get an A, or can get a D. It's up to you.

4.  Exams

There will be three exams (February 12, March 19, and May 14). Each of the exams will consist of three parts: 10 multiple choice questions worth 4 points each, 3 identification questions worth 10 points each, and an essay worth 30 points.  The final exam will include an additional essay, and this essay will be worth 25 points.

5.  Quizzes

There will be four quizzes, one on each of the Harvard case studies (February 12, March 19, and May 14). The quizzes will have 5 multiple choice questions, geared to testing your understanding of the facts of each case.

6Participation / Attendance

You must participate in this course actively in order for it to work well. You must prepare for and attend class, and you must contribute thoughtfully to discussion. To ensure fairness in allocating this portion of the grade, sign-up sheets will be circulated during some of the classes. If we invite a guest speaker, you can be certain that your absence will reduce your grade.

Your reading assignments are listed on the attached class schedule. You are expected to read the material before coming to class, and you are expected to be prepared to discuss the reading material in class. You may be asked to discuss a question regarding the reading during the class for which the reading is assigned. You will be assigned responsibility for some of the specific issues raised in the Harvard Case Studies.

I strongly encourage you to ask questions about business, politics, and regulation. I strongly encourage you to ask questions about the day's readings and lecture, and about current events during the semester.

7Briefing Papers

You are required to write two briefing papers about the tobacco case.  They are due April 23 and May 14. Details will be forthcoming.


January 13 (Monday)                    Introduction


January 15 (Wednesday)             What's at Stake?

        READ: Kuttner, pages 3-23


January 20 (Monday)                    Dr. King's Birthday: Class does not meet


January 22 (Wednesday)             Politics and Markets

                                                        READ: Kuttner, pages 39-67

                                                                     Lehne, pages 57-74

                                                                     Harvard Case Study: "Regulating Mud Flaps"                

January 27 (Monday)                   How American Regulation is Constituted

                                                       READ: Massachusetts' Sumptuary Law of 1651
                                                                    Lehne, pages 3-22


January 29 (Wednesday)             Business and the World of Politics

                                                        READ: Lehne, pages 23-38, 97-114


February  3 (Monday)                   Business and the World of Politics

                                                        READ: Lehne, pages 115-151


February  5 (Wednesday)            Business and the World of Politics

                                                        READ: Lehne, pages 152-182


February 10 (Monday)                  Business's Political Allies and Rivals

                                                        READ: Lehne, pages 39-56


February 12 (Wednesday)           -  EXAM 1 - Study Guide for Exam 1


February 17 (Monday)                   Regulation

                                                         READ: Kuttner, 225-280

                                                                      Harvard Case Study, "The Northwest/Republic Airline Merger"

February 19 (Wednesday)           Regulation

                                                        READ: Eisner, pages xiii-xix, 1-26


February 24 (Monday)                  Progressive regulation

                                                        READ: Eisner, pages 27-72


February 26 (Wednesday)           The New Deal

                                                        READ: Eisner, pages 73-117


March  3 (Monday)                        Labor

                                                        READ: Kuttner, pages 68-109


March  5 (Wednesday)                 Capital

                                                        READ: Kuttner, pages 159-190


March 10 (Monday)                      Anti-Trust

                                                        READ: Lehne, pages 234-249


March 12 (Wednesday)               Innovation


                                                        READ:  Kuttner, pages 191-224


March 17 (Monday)                      Innovation

                                                        READ: Lehne,  pages 250-265


March 19 (Wednesday)               -  EXAM 2 - Study Guide for Exam 2


March 24 (Monday) & March 26 (Wednesday)    Spring break


March 31 (Monday)                       Social Regulation

                                                        READ: Eisner, 118-132

                                                        Harvard Case Study, "Regulating Airport Noise"

April  2 (Wednesday)                   Social Regulation: The Case of the Environment

                                                        READ: Eisner, 118-132


April  7 (Monday)                          Deregulation

                                                        READ: Lehne, pages 202-217, Eisner, 170-200


April  9 (Wednesday)                   Deregulation

                                                        READ: Kuttner, 24-38


April 14 (Monday)                         Globalization

                                                        READ: Lehne, pages 75-96, 218-234


April 16 (Wednesday)                  Globalization

                                                        READ: Eisner, pages 201-229


April 21 (Monday)                         Case Study: RU-486

                                                        READ: Harvard Case Study,
                                                                     "Fertility and Control: The Case of RU-486"
                                                                     Kuttner, 110-158


April 23 (Wednesday)                  Health                                         

                                                        Due: Briefing Paper on Up in Smoke


April 28 (Monday)                         Tobacco Hearing


April 30 (Wednesday)                  Tobacco Hearing


May  5 (Monday)                           Conclusion

                                                        READ: Kuttner, pages 329-362; Lehne 266-280


May  14 (Wednesday)                  FINAL EXAM - Study Guide for Exam 3

                                                        Due: Debriefing Paper on Tobacco Trial




This course aims to improve our critical thinking skills. When you evaluate the evidence you read for class or when you participate to discussion, you should read and listen actively.


When you complete the course, you should be more skilled in your ability to:

1. Distinguish Fact and Opinion.

A fact is a statement that can be proven to be true. An opinion is a statement of a person's feelings about something. When you read or listen in this course, actively distinguish fact and opinion by asking:

    - What is the objective evidence that supports someone's assertion?

    - How does the person differentiate between facts and her or his interpretation of the facts?

2. Recognize Bias and Rhetoric.

What do you think the person wants readers or listeners to think or do? How does the person use words or phrases to accomplish this? Does the author or speaker paint word pictures that are particularly attractive for the things she likes, or that are especially awful for the things that he doesn't like? How do the authors select examples to stir your emotions?

3. Determine Cause and Effect.

Does the person assert that one fact follows as the result of another? (Examples include such statements as "Increased auto exhaust causes global warming," or "Government regulations cause unemployment"). How sweeping are these assertions? What is the evidence for them? How persuasive is this evidence?

4. Compare and contrast different points of view.

5. Determine the accuracy and completeness of the information provided. When you read more than one point of view on an issue, you should think about the following:

    - What facts and cause-effect relationships does everyone agree about?

    - What facts and cause-effect relationships do authors or speakers disagree about?

    - What important facts do some persons raise, while others ignore?

6. Recognize poor logic and faulty reasoning. When you read more than one point of view on an issue, you should think about the following logical problems.

a. Incorrect cause-effect relationships ("The Clean Air Act of 1990 preceded the recent economic recession, therefore the CAA caused the recession" [Were other factors much more influential in bringing about the economic downturn? Did the Clean Air Act have any substantial independent effect on the economy in recent years?])

b. Inaccurate or distorted statistics ("Environmental laws of the 1970s failed to reduce pollution;" think about whether, for example, population and economic growth offset environmental gains from policy). Think about widely different assumptions and projections of the future; for example, environmentalists may project that the protection of the Northern spotted owl may cause little net loss of jobs in the Pacific Northwest because they assume that such restrictions will benefit fishing, tourism, and other industries; the logging companies and unions may project the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

c. Faulty analogies or comparisons ("Congress can't balance the federal budget, so how can it clean up the environment?" or "Auto companies have lied about safety, so how can they be trusted on emissions controls?").

d. Oversimplifications that ignore important information ("Tougher environmental laws can create jobs in the long run, so the economy will be better off if stricter laws are enacted;" such a statement ignores the number of persons who may be displaced in the short run with a given environmental law).

e. Stereotyping ("all environmentalists are kooks; all conservatives are greedy crooks"). Modifiers such as "all," "never," or "always" often provide a tip off stereotyping).

f. Ignoring the question (when asked if auto emissions cause globalwarming, the person instead talks about the cost of regulation or the potential seriousness of global warming).

g. Faulty generalization (the 1970 Clean Air Act's effort to force automobile companies to drastically reduce emissions failed to cause automobile companies to reach that goal within the original time limit; therefore all environmental legislation is a failure).