Public Policy Issues

Policy Topic Areas: File version: $Id: index.htm,v 1.7 2002/07/03 06:14:34 lars Exp $


I am an immigrant to the United States; I came here from Denmark in 1980, settling in Santa Barbara, California. While there is much to admire in the United States, I find that the political process by which public policy goals are defined, seems to have been abandoned by the citizenry at large.

In an effort to clarify my own understanding of issues, I have set up this website ( and a mailing list which is also gatewayed into private USENET newsgroup (news://
I will be posting draft policy documents, and editing them based on the discussion that will hopefully unfold, striving to retain an edited commentary of the rationale behind some of the choices advocated. In due course, it is my hope that a set of draft policy documents can be sent to each of our elected representatives.

/ Lars Poulsen

How to Participate

Read the documents at, look at the discussion archive and if you are interested in contributing, sign up for the mailing list at this link.

For now, there will be one discussion group for all of these topics. To help keep the different tracks of the discussion straight, you are encouraged to put the title of the document under debate into the subject field of every message.

The documents follow a similar outline:


I was raised on a farm, and it should come as no surprise that I believe that agricultural policy should have purposes other than providing cheap food.

Crime and Punishment

The United States has a larger percentage of its population incarcerated than any other nation, and the inmate population is still rising. Why is this and can we afford to continue like that?


It is obvious to everyone that most of our public schools are not functioning. It is less obvious to most that this is not mostly an issue for parents: A well-educated general public is a prerequisite for finding a lawful employment for everyone, thus keeping crime rates down. When a young person graduates from high school as a functional illiterate, what becomes of him or her? What happens to a society when there are many people in this condition?

Health Care

While Canada, England, Germany and most other countries have good public health care systems, the US spends more per capita than any of these, yet more than half the expense goes to administration, and almost a quarter of the population is not covered. How can we improve this situation?


Housing is a basic necessity of life, and the fact that Santa Barbara with 150,000 inhabitants has 4,000 homeless is an indicator that there is a deep crisis. But while it is easy to affirm there is a problem, solutions are much harder to see.


1000 new residents are settling in California every day, and this pace has been fairly steady since the buildup of the aerospace industry started in 1942. In the forties and fifties, many of these new Californians came from the east coast and the midwest, but in the last few decades, most have come from Mexico, Vietnam, China and Korea. Since I myself am one of these immigrants, I am very sensitive to the issues raised by this influx, and I believe we as a society must make some choices on how to regulate it, but the debate is poorly informed.

Land Use Planning

Land use planning is where immigration, housing and agriculture collide. In costal California, zoning and land use planning are some of the most contentious policy issues. Can we forge a consensus?
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