Chapter 21: Social and Domestic
National policy affects your economic
decisions, your education, your health, and much more. Chapter
21 describes the important policy choices that your government
makes. It also examines how political issues affect social
and domestic policies.
Section 1 takes a look at
the development of the federal government's business and labor
policies. Although free enterprise is the foundation of the
American economic system, ours is a mixed economya system
in which the government both supports and regulates private
enterprise. In addition to promoting and regulating business,
the federal government also protects and regulates labor unions.
Section 2 discusses the
federal government's involvement in agriculture and protecting
the environment. The federal government has always encouraged
American agriculture, with acts such as the Morrill Act and
the Homestead Act of 1862 and with agencies such as the Rural
Electrification Administration, the Farmers Home Administration,
the Foreign Agricultural Service, and the Commodity Credit
Corporation. Closely related to farming issues are environmental
issues. The federal government began reacting to public concern
over the deteriorating environment as early as 1955.
Section 3 examines health
care and public assistance policies. The Social Security Act
of 1935 was the first of many government-supported social
insurance, public assistance, and health care programs. Public
assistance programs are designed to help poor citizens. Social
insurance programs help the elderly, the ill, the disabled,
and the unemployed. Today the Public Health Service promotes
the health of citizens by operating research, grant, and action
programs. Other federal agencies also concerned with Americans'
health are the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and
Section 4 reviews the federal
government's involvement in education, housing, and transportation.
Providing for public education was one of the main powers
the Constitution reserved for the states. Eventually, however,
the federal government became involved in education by funding
special education activities with the Smith-Hughes Act of
1917. The government first became involved in housing during
the Great Depression. Today the Federal Housing Authority
(FHA) helps low- to middle-income families afford houses,
and urban renewal makes cities more attractive places to live.
The national government first entered the field of transportation
in 1811 by helping to build the National Road. Since then
the federal government has contributed, usually through some
form of subsidy, to the building of dams, canals, railroads,
and other forms of transportation.