15 August 2009

The Trouble with Policy Analysis

I was at a restaurant the other day that was broadcasting a football game. (It's August. Has football really started already or were they showing a classics rerun?) As they are interviewing one of the players (my favorite scene in a restaurant that offers no sound to the picture), the thought again occurs to me, Why don't we cover politics and policy like this? Why not actual play analysis and scoring and then interviews after? Well, obviously for politics - for elections - we do. But for policy?

Policy is hard to cover in a style similar to sports because there we have no real agreement about the location of the goal line, the rules or even the sport we're playing. Policy is all guys arguing in a circle because nobody can agree on the score or even how one scores or where one might find the goal line.

If Obama gets some form of universal health care coverage through, some people will hail it as a touchdown, some as the loss of the game, and some as a score but not really a 6 point touchdown. Still others will stand there in hockey masks cussing and saying, "You morons don't get it. We're not even playing football."

I guess at some level that makes policy even more interesting. It also makes it more exasperating and less likely to ever become something are able to measure and to which we can hold officials accountable.


David said...

RAND once offered me the opportunity to purse a doctorate in policy analysis. I declined because I couldn't determine how I'd use it. They still graduate guys/gals every year, same subject and I work with a few of them.

They're very resolute about examining policies in law, medicine, state government, the military, education, etc. You're right though about them seldom agreeing unless you batch them by subject into pro or con groups.

It is exasperating to find that not everyone agrees with me and for very substantial reasons too. I like to tell them that facts don't distract me. They call that "bad policy."

David said...

Did I say "purse?" Gads, I meant pursue. Oh well. The other policy I dislike is the one about getting old.