27 September 2011

Policy as if outcomes are irrelevant

More from Mark Steyn:
... both the [US] Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) were set up by a Congress that didn’t identify a single policy goal for these agencies and “provided no standards whatsoever” for their conduct. So they made it up as they went along. Where do you go to vote out the CPSC or OSHA? After America, page 85
Gestures approved by spin doctors, jobs for cronies, self-delusion: all these are key policy drivers under the current system. Outcomes? Nobody's very interested. Nobody, apart from paid lobbyists, even bothers to follow policymaking, so arcane are the debates, and so removed is our political caste from the people they are supposed to represent (and, as is becoming clear, from reality itself).

A Social Policy Bond regime would at the very beginning refocus attention on the question: what is government for? Policymaking would be about defining and prioritising targeted goals - goals that would be meaningful to ordinary people. That means targeting not organisational structures or funding, not appearances or gestures, but outcomes like reduced unemployment, a cleaner environment, low crime rates.... Things that matter to citizens, in other words. That would be a stark contrast to today's policymaking circus.

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