Question 9

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Samples of Effective and Ineffective Responses to Question 9

9.  DESCRIBE THE PROBLEMS OR NEEDS OF SOCIETY YOU WANT TO ADDRESS WHEN YOU ENTER PUBLIC SERVICE

SATISFACTORY RESPONSES:

Although global health statistics such as life expectancy and infant mortality have improved during the last one hundred years, the world currently faces the most unacceptable health disparities of the century. The poor are disproportionately burdened by disease. The World Heath Organization (WHO) has listed extreme poverty as the world's leading killer and greatest cause of poor health. Individuals in poor countries carry 90% of the world's burden of disease as measured by WHO. These countries have only 10% of the world's health dollars to spend, and annual expenditures on health are as low as $6 per person (WHO). Poverty is the main reason why children do not receive vaccinations, why the sick cannot obtain curative drugs or other treatments, and why the poor do not have access to food or clean water. Every year more than ten million children in the world die before their fifth birthday, and a majority of these lives could have been saved for just a few cents per child (WHO). These discouraging health outcomes are also found in the United States. African American men living in Harlem have a life expectancy equivalent to men living in rural Bangladesh. In both locations, infections and violence are the leading causes of death in young adults. As an advocate for the poor, I hope to alleviate unnecessary suffering in the United States and other nations by formulating pro-poor health strategies that will ensure adequate health to all people.

[Well written. Specific data provided. Good explanation of problem and conveys candidate's interest and passion.]

 

 

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Children in extreme poverty in the developing world face conditions hardly imaginable. More than 12.5 million children under five die each year in developing countries; 9 million of them from causes for which inexpensive solutions exist (UNICEF: The State of the World's Children 1997). Approximately 34,000 children under five die each day from hunger and preventable diseases - 24 every minute (Bread for the World Institute: Hunger 1997). Over 500 million children are vulnerable to micronutrient deficiencies, the single greatest preventable cause of physical and mental retardation (OMNI). Over 95 million children under the age of 15 are estimated to be working to help their families make a living. Another 95 million are estimated to be homeless or destitute street children (United Nations 1996: Eradication of Poverty). Hunger and nutrition, health, child labor, and in general issues affecting children in extreme poverty constitute the central focus of my career. Taken together they diminish the developing world's capacity to uplift itself and constitute a moral affront. Children deserve adequate food, medical care, and education and a childhood free from war and labor at too young an age. One hundred and eighty-seven countries adopted these principles in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNICEF: The Year in Review 1997). The challenge of my generation shall bee implementing these ideas and building a world in which no child is left behind.

[Specific data presented. Magnitude of the problem nicely defined.]

 

 

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In 1996, the top twenty percent of the population received nearly fifty percent of the nation's income, averaging over $125,000 per year. The bottom fifth of the population received 4.2 percent, averaging less than $11,500 (Economic Policy Institute 1998). A decline in the value of the minimum wage, a weaker and smaller unionized workforce, and fewer high-paying manufacturing jobs; and growth in low-wage, service sector, temporary and part-time work all contribute to widening income inequality in the U.S. Many of the poor work but without benefits or job security. Welfare reform moves thousands off the rolls, while training programs lead to the worst jobs. Over-represented at the bottom are people of color, single mothers, and their children. A decline in the well-being of low income people is on the horizon. Without resources, individuals forgo medical care, engage in risky activities to generate income, and stay in abusive relationships. Those with the lowest incomes choose between lesser evils regularly, and those with slightly more stay one crisis from the bottom. Social mobility is limited to cycling between destitute and seriously struggling, with few resources and many obstacles to competing in the market. Through my work in sociology, public health, and public policy, I hope to develop multi-dimensional, pre-crisis approaches to the medical, psychological, and subsistence problems concentrated in low-income communities.

[Good explanation of the problem. Data source identified.]

 

 

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UNSATISFACTORY RESPONSES:

 

Our nation has yet to fulfill its promised vision of equal opportunity for all citizens. Every day, as domestic violence occurs and our full resources are not used to end this problem, we deny opportunities to the victims. The abused live in fear, cannot fully succeed at work, and are often withdrawn from society. They fail to realize their true potential since dignity and safety are lost. Children, as innocent onlookers, are put at a disadvantage when they are caught up in an abusive home. Many times, they grow in anger repeating the violence they witness. The cycle of domestic violence begins again for a new generation. I believe that government is responsible to its citizens and that government is the great actor by which social improvement is achieved. Rather than focusing on tracking polls and selective domestic interests, our leaders should focus the energy and resources of government on the problem of domestic violence. I would like to work toward utilizing the powers of government to provide more protection for victims, counseling services for abusers, and increased awareness of the problem among citizens. If we accept domestic violence as an impossible problem, more of the abused will be lost because there are too few shelters, too few laws, or too few counselors. The abused must be given an opportunity to start life with safety and happiness.

[No data. Too much attention to what the candidate wants to do and a recipe for change (the question does not ask for solutions).]

 

 

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I have always known that I want to help people. The various careers that I have considered throughout the years have a unifying theme: helping, treating, and listening to people. However, I do not want to help a small portion of the people in society, I want to do work that will affect a larger population. Through work with legislation and public policy I can accomplish this. My internship this past summer with the Divisions of Developmental Disabilities taught me that although great strides have been taken in order to incorporate individuals with developmental disabilities and other disabilities into the community more fully, there are still hurdles that need to be overcome. There continue to be too many people in our society who look upon people with disabilities negatively. These people do not understand that the individuals they are ridiculing are not too unlike themselves. The individuals with disabilities can work, own their own residences, and attend community activities just like the rest of society. The negative attitudes are major obstacles that need to be addressed and conquered. I do not want to focus my attention solely on developmental disabilities. There are an unfortunate number of people who need assistance and support in our communities. I would like to keep my options open throughout my career in order to assist various types of people. By working in the big picture of the problems of society there will be potential to attack these problems head on.

[Vague. Not clear what candidate wants to do. No data.]

 

 

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From the ecological stresses to the impending Social Security crisis, unmanaged population growth threatens the nation. Currently, the United states grows annually in population by 1%. Total fertility rate remains above the replacement rate of 2.0 -- developed nations typically sit below this threshold - with immigration maintaining one third of the population increase. This growth pattern demands attention. And since the resultant ecological changes will catalyze social and political changes, there must be a greater cooperation between legislation and the sciences. Food supply, urban management (the majority of the wold's population is moving to cities), and biodiversity loss are particular areas of concern. But whether from principle or practicality, words like "bioregionalism," "ecocentrism," and "evolutionary psychology" must soon incorporate into American slang.

[Limited data and no source provided. Unclear candidate understands the issues. Poor definition of problem.]