21 September 2011

Policy: for specialists only

One of the advantages of Social Policy Bonds is that they express policy in terms of meaningful outcomes. This means, as I said in my previous post, that the public can participate in the policymaking process. The benefits of this, in terms of greater public buy-in, are incalculable. Sadly, the current system is moving yet further in the opposite direction. In After America Mark Steyn discusses the US health care debate:
Through all the interminable health-care “debates” of Obama’s first year, did you read any of the proposed plans? Of course not. They’re huge and turgid and indigestible. Unless you’re a health-care lobbyist, a health-care think-tanker, a health-care correspondent, or some other fellow who’s paid directly or indirectly to plough through this stuff, why bother? None of the senators whose names are on the bills ever read ’em; why should you? (page 52)
Exactly so. Any relationship between what you would read and an outcome meaningful to you would be purely coincidental. Policy debate nowadays focusses almost exclusively on institutional structures, funding arrangements, legalisms, with some gestures and symbolic language thrown in.

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