Protecting the Public's Interests (C-4)


Protecting the Public's Interests (C-4)


"I consider ethics, as well as religion, as supplements to law in the government of man." 
-Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States
Protecting the public’s interest is the responsibility of governments and their executive agencies. Decisions made concerning the allocation of public resources to the provision and delivery of public goods and services is guided by the need to protect the public’s interests. The interpretation of what represents the public’s interest may vary at any point in time among stakeholders. Consequently there is ongoing debate among lobbyists, who are often more concerned about the special interests of individuals, groups and firms than about the interests of the larger community and society as a whole.
Overall, those concerned with protecting the public’s interest focus on issues related to public safety and welfare, and what will be of long-term public benefit. They are interested in the development and implementation of public policy. According to Harold D. Lasswell (1990), essentially, public policy determines “who gets what, when, and how”. Policy making can involve lengthy disputes over what is best for the public at a particular juncture. Governments can rarely afford to attend to all demands from their constituents, hence the rivalry among constituents for attention to specific needs.
The debate about what is best for the public has traditionally been resolved by applying rational economic decision-making, in terms of achieving the most returns on the least investment. The rational for this approach is careful management of public resources. In recent decades other approaches to protecting the public interests have been developed. These include, for example, organization-based strategies, where the competence and capacity of the organization are taken in to consideration when determining governments’ potential for being effective.
Promoting ethical behavior among public officials is one of the key aspects of protecting the public’s interests.

Collection Items

Keep your Fire Escapes Clear - New York City Residents Advisory
Poster for the Tenement House Department of the City of New York advising that tenement house residents keep their fire escapes free of obstructions.

Public Interest: Des Moines Public Forum Notice
Poster for the 8th year of Des Moines public forum featuring Harry Overstreet, famous American philosopher, to discuss a personal philosophy for the times, East High, Des Moines, Iowa.

A Well Fed Nation is a Fighting Nation - World War II Public Health Initiative
Charles Alston, an African-American artist and educator, created this drawing in 1943. It shows a strong, healthy family (man, woman, and two children) looking off into the distance. Behind them, we can see rows of soldiers. The caption reads, " A…

Pattern for Daily Food Choices - Dietary Guide, U.S. Department of Agriculture
This colorful food wheel was issued by the American Red Cross and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It illustrates the recommended servings for each food group, making note that alcohol, sweets, and fat should be consumed in moderation.

Hassle-Free Food Guide - U.S. Department of Agriculture
"The Hassle-Free Food Guide was used from 1979-1984. Not only does it outline the ""Basic Four"" ( Vegetables and Fruit, Bread and Cereal, Milk and Cheese, and Meat and Poultry), but it also adds a ""cautionary"" group which includes fats, sweets,…

Food for Young Children
A page from the Food for Young Children guide (Farmers' Bulletin 717). The photo illustrates a "sensible supper for a child" which covers nearly all of the guide's food groups. It consists of milk, bread, prunes, and cookies.

For over a century,…

Florence Kelley, Secretary, National Consumers' League
To live means to buy, to buy means to have power, to have power means to have responsibility.
Florence Kelley, National Consumers League website
Portrait of Florence Kelley, the founder of first general secretary of the National Consumers' League.…

Get Off The Track! A Song For Emancipation, Sung By The Hutchinsons
This music cover, published in 1844, is an advertisement for the abolitionist song, "Get Off the Track!" Composed by Jesse Hutchinson, Jr., it was dedicated to Nathaniel Peabody Rogers, an antislavery editor.

The image is full of symbolism. We…

Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or…

Magnet Safety Poster
This safety poster was issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, under the Neighborhood Safety Network project. It warns parents about the dangers of magnets to children, showing an x-ray and doctor with scalpel.

Congress created the…
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