Explain the difference between the unitary, confederal, and federal systems of power-sharing. Give examples of countries practicing each type of the power-sharing system. What type of...

Explain the difference between the unitary, confederal, and federal systems of power-sharing. Give examples of countries practicing each type of the power-sharing system. What type of power-sharing system does the United States use today? What was the very first type of grants-in-aid provided by the federal government to states? Compare and contrast categorical grants and block grants. What problems are associated with the categorical grants? Why did the federal government introduce block grants? Why did block grants fail to result in considerable freedom and lighter tax burden? Give examples for each type of grants-in-aid.

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a federal system, power is shared between the central government and individual states or provinces. The United States is a good example of a federal system. In a unitary system, power is vested in a strong central government that controls all the states or provinces in its territory. A good example of a unitary system is China. A confederate system features a weak central government and strong states or provinces that follow the central government if and when they choose to. Switzerland is a good example of a confederate system.

The first types of grants-in-aid were categorical grants, which were later consolidated for the first time into block grants during the Johnson administration in the 60s. The Partnership for Health program, which was approved in 1966, was an example of a block grant. On the other hand, the Food Stamp Program is an example of a categorical grant. Block grants are known to be more general in terms of spending, while categorical grants are known to be specific. An issue with categorical grants is that they give the federal government more control over the funds, making the money susceptible to diversion into other programs. Block grants, on the other hand, reduce the level of federal oversight, which impacts federal accountability in case of failure.

Block grants were introduced to provide broad flexibility with regards to the programs. However, its failures have been traced to reduced federal oversight and impracticable allocation formulas.