We have all seen the Internet meme of politicians wearing corporate logos so the public will know who their backers are. I would like to see this extended to the experts and talking heads that seem to influence both our politics and our economy. Another innovation that is desperately needed is some type of “batting average” for these people that would be instantly displayed on the screen.
It has long been joked that only in baseball can your decisions be wrong seventy percent of the time and you still qualify for the Hall of Fame. Few of our “pundit class” would rate even that high, yet they remain popular guests and even get their own shows with seven-figure salaries. And unlike the sports world, those big paychecks can really impact the lives of families that have no interest in the political game.
Weather forecasting has real science to it these days, but we still enjoy buying a Farmer’s Almanac for the entertainment value. We wouldn’t risk planting by it anymore. The jury is still out on cybermetric use in sports, but the results look promising. But when it comes to the economy, the dismal science, we allow huge policy decisions to be made on philosophical grounds rather than hard evidence.
Look at food stamps. We have people who want to spend millions of dollars drug testing recipients on a program that was actually started to ensure a steady market for farmers (hence it being run by the Department of Agriculture) — despite experiments showing the tests to be a waste of money. If manufacturing engineers were as bad designing experiments, they would soon be out of work.
I am not suggesting a managed economy. I believe in the free market; it is just that we have not had a free market in over a hundred years. What we need, in my opinion, is an honest review of available statistics and policy changes that can be tracked for effectiveness. Do not double down on failed rallying points; instead, be responsible leaders who can acknowledge the facts on the ground and work to improve them. Roads, bridges, and public buildings do not rebuild themselves. More testing does not improve student achievement. Tax cuts do not increase government income. Every day we delay puts us further behind our international competitors.