Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Better policy

Here is the Governor of Maryland intoning that Baltimore's inner city (any inner city) "needs" more money. That, or more "unrest." Alex Tabarrok is one of many who blasts that one into the bleachers. But it does not matter. In 1989, diehards shrugged off the implosion of the East bloc by claiming that the "real" Marxism had not actually been tried. A dismal U.S. economic recovery is explained by the fact that "real" stimulus spending had not been tried. Fifty years into the "War on Poverty" and we get armies of Johnny one-notes saying guess what?  Failing public schools?  Guess what?

It's a pretty neat gambit. No failed policy can ever be acknowledged a failure. Policies tested via randomized trials linked to betting markets would be a step forward. If there could be randomized participation in a program involving schools, housing, you-name-it -- and with a betting market attached, we could get real and identifiable winners and loser.