Monday, December 13, 2010

In Case We Sneezed

In the absence of a cat to do the job, I managed to wake myself up at half past five this morning, leaving myself not quite enough time to nod off again before the alarm went off. The temperature was a sultry four degrees and, barring a few shaded patches where it is stubbornly refusing to melt, the snow has mostly all gone. Apparently there is more on the way though, with an arctic blast due at the end of the week.

I caught a bit of a political debate show that was on yesterday, incongruously enough featuring Mitch Benn (resplendent in a 'Proud of the BBC' t-shirt) as one of the panellists. The subject under discussion was whether you could use 'happiness' as a measure of success of Government policies. This is at best a rather nebulous thing to track, and I imagine most people would put themselves somewhere around 'mustn't grumble' on a scale of 'kill me now' to 'zippedee doo-dah!'.

Referring back to my thoughts on evidence based policy from the other day, it strikes me that this is predicated on having suitable evidence to look at. In the case of crime, for example, you can track things like re-offending rates as a measure for whether a particular punishment or rehabilitation programme is an effective deterrent. Economic indicators are a little more tricky to define, but not impossible, as are other measures to do with quality of life.

With these targets, politicians could easily set goals to measure their performance in the job of running the country, but it's a fair bet that they won't do it, or they'll take existing figures and fudge them to score whichever political points they wish to make.

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