03 September 2006


Mark A R Klieman has an interesting observation about the rôle of social policy research.
According to Eberstadt, the capacity of the Federal government to know what's going on in domestic policy is being systematically dismantled as one data-collection effort after another is zero-funded.
This is driven at least in part by conservative ideology: the right seems to think that the less we know about problems the less we'll be tempted to try to do something about them. If memory serves, sometime in the 1970s the Republican-Dixiecrat alliance actually passed an appropriations rider forbidding the development of “social indicators” to parallel the widely-published economic indicator series. That left us with unsatisfactory single numbers such as the poverty rate.

Eberstadt, in a conversation after the meeting, drew a parallel with the old conservative strategy of “starving the beast” by cutting taxes to make new social programs fiscally impossible. He summed up the apparent strategy of the Bush Administration as “feed the beast, but blind it.”

Yeah. All that research is stuff for the reality-based community; conservatives know better than to waste their time on such stuff.

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