Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Market Decline Will Lead To Pension Collapse, USD Devaluation, And NWO - Raymond_Matison
2.Uber’s Nightmare Has Just Started - Stephen_McBride
3.Stock Market Crash Black Swan Event Set Up Sept 12th? - Brad_Gudgeon
4.GDow Stock Market Trend Forecast Update - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Gold Significant Correction Has Started - Clive_Maund
6.British Pound GBP vs Brexit Chaos Timeline - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Cameco Crash, Uranium Sector Won’t Catch a break - Richard_Mills
8.Recession 2020 Forecast : The New Risks & New Profits Of A Grand Experiment - Dan_Amerman
9.Gold When Global Insanity Prevails - Michael Ballanger
10.UK General Election Forecast 2019 - Betting Market Odds - Nadeem_Walayat
Last 7 days
Stock Market Dow Elliott Wave Analysis Forecast - 13th Oct 19
The Most Successful IPOs Have This One Thing in Common - 13th Oct 19
Precious Metals & Stock Market VIX Are Set To Launch Dramatically Higher - 13th Oct 19
Discovery Sport EGR Valve Gasket Problems - Land Rover Dealer Fix - 13th Oct 19
Stock Market US Presidential Cycle - Video - 12th Oct 19
Social Security Is Screwing Millennials - 12th Oct 19
Gold Gifts Traders With Another Rotation Below $1500 - 12th Oct 19
US Dollar Index Trend Analysis - 11th Oct 19
China Golden Week Sales Exceed Expectations - 11th Oct 19
Stock Market Short-term Consolidation Does Not change Secular Bullish Trend - 11th Oct 19
The Allure of Upswings in Silver Mining Stocks - 11th Oct 19
US Housing Market 2018-2019 and 2006-2007: Similarities & Differences - 11th Oct 19
Now Is the Time to Load Up on 5G Stocks - 11th Oct 19
Why the Law Can’t Protect Your Money - 11th Oct 19
Will Miami be the First U.S. Real Estate Bubble to Burst? - 11th Oct 19
How Online Casinos Maximise Profits - 11th Oct 19
3 Tips for Picking Junior Gold Stocks - 10th Oct 19
How Does Inflation Affect Exchange Rates? - 10th Oct 19
This Is the Best Time to Load Up on These 3 Value Stocks - 10th Oct 19
What Makes this Gold Market Rally Different From All Others - 10th Oct 19
Stock Market US Presidential Cycle - 9th Oct 19
The IPO Market Is Nowhere Near a Bubble - 9th Oct 19
US Stock Markets Trade Sideways – Waiting on News/Guidance  - 9th Oct 19
Amazon Selling Fake Hard Drives - 4tb WD Blue - How to Check Your Drive is Genuine  - 9th Oct 19
Whatever Happened to Philippines Debt Slavery?  - 9th Oct 19
Gold in the Negative Real Interest Rates Environment - 9th Oct 19
The Later United States Empire - 9th Oct 19
Gold It’s All About Real Interest Rates Not the US Dollar - 8th Oct 19
A Trump Impeachment Would Cause The Stock Market To Rally - 8th Oct 19
The Benefits of Applying for Online Loans - 8th Oct 19
Is There Life Left In Cannabis - 8th Oct 19
Yield Curve Inversion Current State - 7th Oct 19
Silver Is Cheap – And Getting Cheaper - 7th Oct 19
Stock Market Back to Neutral - 7th Oct 19
Free Market Capitalism: Laughably Predictable - 7th Oct 19
Four Fundamental Reasons to Buy Gold and Silver - 7th Oct 19
Gold and Silver Taking a Breather - 7th Oct 19
Check Engine Warning Light ECU Dealer Diagnostic Cost - Land Rover Discovery Sport - 6th Oct 19
Natural Gas Reloads For Another Price Rally - 6th Oct 19
Understanding and Purchasing different types of Plastic Building Materials Online - 6th Oct 19
Craig Hemke: Ignore the Elliott Wave “Buffoons” Calling for a Gold Crash - 6th Oct 19
Stock Market 6 Month Trend Forecast Conclusion - Video - 6th Oct 19
The True Causes Behind the Yield Curve Inversion and Gold - 5th Oct 19
Strategies on how to be a Successful CFD Trader - 5th Oct 19
Gold Stocks Correction Underway - 5th Oct 19
Climate Change When the Levee Breaks - 5th Oct 19
Federal Reserve Bank ‘Guarantees’ Dow Will Not Sink Below 26k - 5th Oct 19
The Russell and Transportation Tell A Completely Different Stock Market Story - 4th Oct 19
Confidence Drives the Economy and Trump’s Trade War Is Killing It - 4th Oct 19
ADL Predicts Crude Oil Prices Will Fall Below $40 - 4th Oct 19
Investing Money? Why You Need a Reputable Accountant - 4th Oct 19
Stumbling Manufacturing and Rising Gold – Now or Later? - 4th Oct 19
Silver Eyes Fourth Quarter Rebound - 4th Oct 19
Gold Price Forecast to Exceed $10,000/Ounce - 3rd Oct 19

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Stock Market Trend Forecast Oct - Dec 2019 by Nadeem Walayat

The Absurdity of "Reform" in Washington DC

Politics / US Politics Mar 02, 2015 - 04:08 PM GMT

By: MISES

Politics

James Bovard writes: In the 1930s, peasants who were starving because of the Soviet regime’s brutal farm collectivization policy lamented, “If only Stalin knew!” Nowadays, American social scientists look at floundering federal programs and lament: “If only Congress knew!” And the solution is the “evidence-based” reform movement which will magically beget a new era of good governance.


Show Me the Evidence: Obama’s Fight for Rigor and Results in Social Policy is the title of a new book written by Ron Haskins, a former congressional staffer who was also briefly a White House aide under George W. Bush. The book’s publisher, the Brookings Institute, is renown as one of Washington’s most prominent defenders of Big Government. In a New York Times op-ed spinoff, Haskins proclaimed that “since its earliest days the Obama administration has been pursuing the most important initiative in the history of federal attempts to use evidence to improve social programs.”

Haskins’s book is building on a Hosanna moment for Washington policy wonks. On May 18, 2012, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memo notifying federal agencies that “programs that can prove their effectiveness with data will be more likely to get the funds they seek.” A New York Times headline whooped up that memo: “The Dawn of the Evidence- Based Budget.” The Times noted: “When we consider the vast sums that governments spend, it seems crazy that policy makers don’t routinely make good use of evidence.” “Seems crazy” is an accurate description of policymaking but expectations for an outbreak of sanity are premature.

Haskins and organizations such as the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy encourage Americans to believe that, because a few federal programs are spending pocket change for solid program evaluations, the government as a whole could soon be far more competent. But history shows that mere evidence rarely deters politicians from seizing power over vast swaths of American life.

For instance, the folly of farm subsidies has been obvious for more than eighty years. In 1930, The New York Times, surveying the wreckage of agricultural markets after the federal government tried to drive up wheat prices, concluded, “It is perhaps fortunate for the country that its fingers were so badly burned at the very first trial of the scheme.” But that did not deter President Franklin Roosevelt and Congress from making the Secretary of Agriculture a farm dictator.

Despite an unbroken string of failures, the federal government has continued disrupting agriculture ever since. Politicians create convoluted programs that pay farmers more than their crops are worth, and then launch new interventions spurred by the disruptions caused by suppressing price signals. Most of the ag policy mistakes of the past are still being repeated: only the names of the secretaries of agriculture and of the farm-state congressmen have changed.

Foreign aid is the largest laboratory for Obama’s evidence-based reforms. Obama promised in a 2010 United Nations speech to “change the way we do business” with foreign aid, pledging to judge aid programs and budgets “based not on dollars spent, but on outcomes achieved.” The following year, the Agency for International Development ballyhooed a new evaluation policy for a “transformation based on absolute demand for results.”

But that “absolute demand” could not compete with the pressure generated by Obama’s 2008 campaign pledge to double foreign aid. His administration has been far more concerned with boosting spending and covering up boondoggles. The Washington Post nailed AID last year for massively suppressing audit reports revealing waste, fraud and abuse. More than 400 negative findings were deleted from a sample of twelve Inspector General draft audit reports. In one case, more than 90 percent of the negative findings were expunged before the report was publicly released. Acting Inspector General Michael Carroll buried the embarrassing audit findings because he “did not want to create controversy as he awaited Senate confirmation to become the permanent inspector general,” according to some AID auditors.

Obama’s rhetoric bounced off AID’s bureaucratic Teflon. A 2013 Congressional Research Service report quoted one AID bureaucrat: “If you don’t ask [about results], you don’t fail, and your budget isn’t cut.” More than thirty years ago, GAO captured AID’s intransigence in perhaps its most sardonic report title ever: "Experience — A Potential Tool for Improving U.S. Assistance Abroad." At least AID’s “fail-and-repeat” tactic provides bureaucratic job security.

“Evidence-based” evaluations have probably been applied to less than two percent of federal programs. This is akin to Obama preening that he will do an honest, balanced analysis on whether the US should intervene in the tiny African nation of Lesotho — at the same time he ramps up his war efforts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and continues covertly warring in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. And Obama has simply ignored evidence that did not suit his ambitions. When he began pushing his Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2009, there was already a proven history of federal intervention inflating medical costs and disrupting health care. But the president was far more concerned with creating a legacy than with learning from Medicare and Medicaid fiascos.

The “evidence based” reform campaign presumes that politics is essentially a noble business in which public servants love nothing more than serving the public. But for politicians, programs are fiefdoms. How many kings have abdicated their thrones after becoming convinced that monarchy did not truly serve the downtrodden masses? Will politicians cede power after social scientists document how their favorite programs do more harm than good?

H.L. Mencken noted that the main concern of elected politicians’ souls “is to keep a place at the public trough.” Politicians will always be far more interested in verdicts from the voting booth than from the American Journal of Sociology. There is no reason to expect that fighting waste, fraud, and abuse will suddenly become more popular on Capitol Hill than reelection.

[Excerpted from the inaugural issue of The Austrian.]

James Bovard is the author of Public Policy Hooligan (2012), Attention Deficit Democracy (2006), The Fair Trade Fraud (1991), and 7 other books. See James Bovard's article archives.

© 2015 Copyright James Bovard - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules