Why Government policies perform so miserably !

” The poorly guarded secret of the policy-making trade is that while telling us how this or that new initiative will change our world for the better (because they know how things work around here), in truth it will likely fail by next Wednesday, be abandoned a year later after much kicking and screaming, and replaced early the following week with a shiny new diagnosis of how things could work so much better under the next new policy initiative.

The tragedy is that no one seems to learn !

I don’t blame anyone for not knowing. That’s to be expected. The question is whether we are hooked on pretending otherwise. One phrase for this, coined by an American economist Charles Manski, is ‘incredible certitude’: people seem certain – or like to seem so – but their certainty is not credible. When rivals each come up with their own certainties, he calls these ‘duelling certitudes’.
What neither side wants to contemplate in these duels is ambiguity.
Not knowing exactly what’s going on here ought to be no surprise. What should attract more scepticism is the ubiquity of the ‘it’s all because. . .’ explanation and the confident solution: ‘The government should. . .’ is a staple of every commentary.

Notes from Michael Blastland’s book “The Hidden Half.”

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