Good intentions are never enough to prevent equal and opposite reactions

What Newtonian mechanics has to do with the results of legislation. After all, the results are what is really important, aren’t they?

Amplify’d from blog.heritage.org

In sum, a moral evaluation of public policy cannot stop short with the good intentions that go into crafting a law or government program. We have a moral obligation to pay attention to the other side of the equation as well—its actual, and often predictable, outcomes. Richards suggests that a great place to begin is for every policymaker, upon encountering proposed legislation, to ask, “And then what will happen?”

Read more at blog.heritage.org

 

What does the evidence say about federal education spending?

That should be the first thing we look at when deciding what federal education programs stay and what ones are canceled. Right?

Wrong.

Read on.

Amplify’d from www.cato-at-liberty.org

Take the embattled — and near dead — Washington, DC voucher program. There is currently a concerted effort to revive the program, but the Obama administration and most congressional Democrats evinced no qualms about killing it despite its well-documented success with graduation rates and parental satisfaction. Documented, in fact, using “gold-standard,” longitudinal, random-assignment research methods. That documentation is why Cato Center for Educational Freedom director Andrew Coulson last week testified to the House education committee that “there is one federal education program that has been proven to both improve educational outcomes and dramatically lower costs. That is the Washington, DC Opportunity Scholarships Program.”

Sadly, the administration – and, to be honest, pols of all stripes – are as happy to ignore the evidence of success in programs they dislike as the very common evidence of failure in programs they support.

Take the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which funds after-school activities intended to keep kids off the streets and provide them with social and educational enrichment.  A series of studies — the last published in 2005 — found that not only didn’t the program appear to provide many positive results, it might have had overall negative effects:

Conclusions: This study finds that elementary students who were randomly assigned to attend the 21st Century Community Learning Centers after-school program were more likely to feel safe after school, no more likely to have higher academic achievement, no less likely to be in self-care, more likely to engage in some negative behaviors, and experience mixed effects on developmental outcomes relative to students who were not randomly assigned to attend the centers.

 
In light of its (at-best) impotence, did the program go away? Of course not! In FY 2010 it was appropriated $1.17 billion, and the Obama administration has asked for $1.27 billion for FY 2012. And this despite not just poor performance, but a pesky $14 trillion national debt.

This is small potatoes, though, compared to some other programs. Take Head Start: Run by the Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start is supposed to give poor kids an early boost in life. In reality, however, it has proven itself to be largely worthless, with benefits disappearing after just a few years. It’s a finding that was repeated in a federal evaluation released in 2010, which reported that ”the advantages children gained during their Head Start and age 4 years yielded only a few statistically significant differences in outcomes at the end of 1st grade for the sample as a whole.”

Despite this fecklessness, the administration wants to increase funding for Head Start from $7.23 billion in FY 2010 to $8.10 billion in FY 2012.

Clearly, “evidence” doesn’t drive budgeting decisions

Read more at www.cato-at-liberty.org

 

Ahoy! How are you?

Why is it that we say “Hello” to each other?

Amplify’d from www.npr.org

The Oxford English Dictionary says the first published use of “hello” goes back only to 1827. And it wasn’t mainly a greeting back then. Ammon says people in the 1830’s said hello to attract attention (“Hello, what do you think you’re doing?”), or to express surprise (“Hello, what have we here?”). Hello didn’t become “hi” until the telephone arrived.

The dictionary says it was Thomas Edison who put hello into common usage. He urged the people who used his phone to say “hello” when answering. His rival, Alexander Graham Bell, thought the better word was “ahoy.”

Ahoy?

Read more at www.npr.org

 

Alabama-Auburn rivalry now so crazy it has gotten to tree killing

This is crazy! Why would a football fan want to kill 130-year old oaks that fans of his rival team use as a stage for celebrations?

Amplify’d from www.outsidethebeltway.com

The Alabama-Auburn rivalry is as intense as any in college sports, consuming the state year round. If anything, the intensity is hotter than ever, as the two schools have alternated the last two national championships.

A 62-year-old Dadeville man has been arrested in connection with the poisoning of the historic Toomer’s Corner oak trees at Auburn University.

A man claiming to be “Al from Dadeville” phoned a radio show late last month, claiming he poured herbicide around the 130-year-old oaks that are the scene of celebrations after Auburn’s sports victories.

“The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn, Ala., because I live 30 miles away, and I poisoned the Toomer’s trees,” the caller told The Paul Finebaum Radio Show, saying he was at the Iron Bowl.

Calling himself “Al from Dadeville,” he said he used Spike 80DF, also known as tebuthiuron, and the trees “definitely will die.” The caller signed off with, “Roll Damn Tide.”

Auburn discovered the poisoning after taking soil samples on Jan. 28, a day after “Al from Dadeville” called Finebaum’s syndicated show saying he had used the herbicide on the trees.

The university said in a statement Wednesday that an herbicide commonly used to kill trees was applied “in lethal amounts” to the soil around the two trees, and that they likely can’t be saved.

Read more at www.outsidethebeltway.com

 

What do computer models prove?

They prove the programming ability of the programmers. That is all they prove. If you have garbage data, you will get garbage results. If the programmers are bad, you can start with good data and get garbage results. In no case do the computer models have any more value than the data used as their input has by itself.

Amplify’d from cafehayek.com

When I listen to the public debates about climate change, I am impressed by the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations and the superficiality of our theories. Many of the basic processes of planetary ecology are poorly understood. They must be better understood before we can reach an accurate diagnosis of the present condition of our planet. When we are trying to take care of a planet, just as when we are taking care of a human patient, diseases must be diagnosed before they can be cured. We need to observe and measure what is going on in the biosphere, rather than relying on computer models.

Read more at cafehayek.com