» Politics and other things

Thought provoking read on failure to understand poverty

(2 posts)
  • Started 5 years ago by missing_kskd
  • Latest reply from missing_kskd

  1. missing_kskd

    I really liked this piece. It's the combination of policy that matters. That rings true to me. What also rings true is all political orientations have the potential for meaningful and productive policy contributions. We used to be better at this. Now it's a mess and we all know it. What we don't always understand is WHY.

    I also liked how group analysis leads to identification of potential anti-poverty policy vectors. (directions one could go to accomplish some outcome)

    The most resonant point to me is data. Lack of data. Means to get better data. Understanding the data.

    Our gun discussion is largely data bankrupt, for example. I don't mean just here. The discussion in general. It's just a mess! Frankly, I do not blame the more staunch gun advocates who fear regulation that won't be productive and meaningful. However, I also do blame them for a general failure to push for more data.

    Want to understand how to improve the situation? Understand how hard getting data really is.

    Maybe we should invest some of our smarts, time, money, resources on simple, rational, data collection. Doing this is on par with things like roads, infrastructure, research, and other aspects of the commons we all use to build lives, businesses, etc... Our data commons is not up to the task. And so it follows our politics are a mess of conflicting visions, values, beliefs and every other thing.

    Why? No fucking data! Or, inadequate or poor data. Too coarse.

    We really should focus on how to get and share more data, so then we can do some analysis and derive some rational basis for policy visions and their potential impact.

    After reading this, it occurs to me we have somewhat of an anti-data culture clashing with a data driven one. In general, those people trending older derive the basis for their policy vision preferences on their own experiences and observations. To them, that's data. And it is data, so let's be clear. But it's not inclusive data, to also be clear.

    Younger people, being more connected and immersed in technology, see the data gap and are attempting to close it. Data driven policy has a lot of merits. One primary merit is the data analysis debate is far more productive than some "values" debate, which really is a proxy to gloss over the fact that we quite frequently do not have enough data to do anything more than discuss values.

    Let's change that.

    Posted on September 24, 2014 - 03:39 AM #
  2. missing_kskd

    There are implications here too:

    Take economics. That's not a science. It's not possible to replicate things in a scientific way. How people value things is up to them and it varies considerably and it's not constant. We often have to resort to truisms like, "things are worth what people will pay for them."

    ...which is actually a core, vital to understand, statement about economics. But that same statement means economics is a behavioral science at best, on par with many of the social sciences, often called pseudosciences.

    That's not bad, it just is.

    A simple statement, "Increasing the minimum wage cuts jobs, or raises costs, or creates jobs..."

    Which is it? Or does it depend on other things? (likely)

    The data we do have doesn't generally support many of the anti-minimum wage increase positions, but the data we have is coarse, difficult to mine, and because of that, the analysis can be more subjective than is appropriate for clear policy and it makes understanding expected outcomes more difficult as well.

    So we are left with values, fair, etc... And of course, we are a mess on this topic. When those clash, they simply clash, leaving us with advocacy and a numbers game to determine policy decisions.

    Now, we see the media being used in that to great effect! So that means some of us will get what we want, but really can't regularly and consistently point to the outcomes and link that back to expectations in a meaningful way. We got what we wanted, because we could. Hardly a way to advance policy. Having means isn't any indicator of authority or correctness. It's just having means.

    Gift a moron a billion dollars, and what happens? Gift a scientist that same billion and what happens? Wealth can go good or bad here, and we all know it. Elon? IMHO, he's doing a lot of good right now. Koch brothers? I don't see a lot of good there. But they both have means.

    Make no mistake, I'm a big fan of advocacy. It's superior to debate in our current climate, because debate tends to center on truth, or rationality. We can't always have that, but we do get choices and outcomes. Again, how we value things is arbitrary, so an advocacy position can do as much to justify a given outcome as it can to bring the policy that created it, and notably, impact how people see and participate in the policy, which can also impact the outcome!

    Think on that last bit some. It's somewhat circular. Yes, I know. There isn't any alternative, unless we choose to get better data.

    If the NSA can collect so damn much, why can't we do the same for more benign and important purposes?

    A more robust body of data could very well take us to better analysis, which would limit advocacy, promote debate, improve the quality of analysis, and focus on what can happen and how we might benefit while suppressing what should happen types of positions.

    That's data driven over values, etc...

    Personally, I don't see the clash of values resolving anytime soon. The more connected we are, the more media is diluted down for profit, the more we can individually publish, the bigger the mess is.

    When I see the Silicon Valley people do their thing well, the number one commonality I see is they get big data and they do analysis on it and from there they make data driven decisions and they quite often get desired outcomes.

    Most interesting is when they see a potential outcome, follow it, get the data along the way, and the data actually suggests a different outcome is optimal, they center in on that to maximize the positive impact and value of their efforts.

    I've romanticized this a little, but the point should be clear enough. Rather than fixate on who is right or wrong, let's get the information needed to understand how we all can contribute to making things better, however that can happen?

    Getting back to the economics, we may well find all of the statements regarding something like minimum wage are, in fact, true! And we would find in that case, something like scope applies, and there may be overlaps where choices can be made with minimal negative impacts too.

    Wouldn't that be a most interesting discussion? Rather than "X is right, Y is wrong", we get to "X works well here, Y works well over here, and the data suggests Z fits where we were not sure with X and Y."

    Personally, I am growing more convinced the latter is the more rational case, but we can't get there, because ideological purity is the priority, and it's the priority due to lack of data to provide a motivation to do otherwise.

    (yeah, I'm up. Happens. Woke right up, no chance of sleeping again. Sucks)

    Posted on September 24, 2014 - 04:12 AM #