You can get a PhD in Policy Studies (I have an MS) yet most people never heard of the subject. It’s about rules, regulations, and laws by groups—families, corporations, governments—to solve problems.
If there is no problem, there is no need for a policy, i.e., a solution. But there are always problems. In cave days, problems were solved by a stone axe to the head. Today it is laws, although punishments can be just as severe. Policy Studies 101 begins by thinking about Assumptions.
Imagine a broad swath of flat farmland with two roads running through it, east-west and north-south. A few horse-drawn wagons a day, no problem. At 50 automobiles a day, two might collide–a problem–so you put up four signs that read, “4-Way Stop.”
Assumptions: Drivers will notice the signs. Drivers can read English. Drivers will read the sign and stop.
If corn grows high, blocking the view, you add an overhead blinker. As the area is built up, stop lights, a traffic circle, an overpass. Each measure is a policy decision that rests upon an Assumption (or hope) that it will solve the problem.
All this is playing out right now as Republicans bellow for fewer regulations, ignoring the problems they were meant to solve, like banks in 2008, recklessly trading for their own accounts, and bringing down the American economy. Bankers, bailed out by U.S. taxpayers, made obscene profits and gave out obscene bonuses while the rest of the U.S. lost jobs and homes. Now these vultures are using their obscene profits to buy off politicians and dupe naive citizens into calling for the scrapping of all the rules, regulations, and laws that protect them, so the vultures can play their nasty tricky game all over again.