01 March 2010

Who cares about the planet so long as Al Gore look silly

One of the virtues of the Social Policy Bond approach is that setting goals would be done deliberately, consciously and more rationally than it is now. Consider this quote from David Brooks, a 'New York Times' columnist says:
I have to confess, I am not at my best when dealing with environmental issues. On the one hand, I totally accept the scientific authorities who say that global warming is real and that it is manmade. On the other hand, I feel a frisson of pleasure when I come across evidence that contradicts the models. I don’t know if this is just because I distrust people who are so confident they can model complex systems or because I relish any fact that might make Al Gore look silly. Source (quoted here)
This sort of puckish perversity does matter, especially when widely promulgated in the mass media. In the absence of referendums about climate change and other major policy issues, it stands in for, and influences, received opinion. Yet his conclusion doesn't even reflect Mr Brooks' own opinion about the fact of climate change. Our current system gives us so little influence over policy that we treat the whole process as an entertainment.

Social Policy Bonds would bring some rationality to policymaking. Instead of focusing on personalities a bond regime would start out by considering which social and environmental goals we should aim to achieve. Because it is entirely focused on meaningful outcomes, it would bring more people into the policymaking process. We'd think carefully about which outcomes we want to target, and how we'd rank them and, in contrast to the current system, we'd do so relatively dispassionately.

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