Inputs, Outputs

Another quote from one of the articles I referenced on Pathological Altruism (this one from a slightly different angle):

…The left derives its sense of moral authority from the supposition that its intentions are altruistic and its opponents’ are selfish….

This throwaway (partisan) sentence sat somewhere in the back of my mind until I stumbled upon another complaint in the same chain of web links (the actual topic is border enforcement, but what struck me as interesting is the idea of how one measures success. The emphasis here is mine):

…the key issue is what do you measure here, inputs or outputs? What the bill does, a bit of shock and awe, it picks a number out of a hat, a huge number of new agents, again, without any explanation of why 20,000. Why not a 100,000? It’s all about inputs. We heard Corker say we’re going to spend a ton of money on this.

Well, we double the per capita spending on education in the last 30 years, and test scores have gone down. Inputs are irrelevant. What matters is output, and that’s the key issue here. The Cornyn amendment says the path to citizenship begins when we know that we have 100% awareness of the border and 90% interdiction. It doesn’t start otherwise.

You have to measure that you’ve actually stopped the river and you’ve turned it into a trickle. And what the argument of the others is, in the Corker amendment, is know that that’s going to be a goal. A goal is meaningless. It’s got to to be a guarantee.

For decades now we have been focusing on questions of intentions and motives, stated and presumed. We seem to take for granted that these things lead somehow to the desired end result – the assumptions, the execution, the entire process itself all remain unquestioned. The more things don’t work, the more we focus more on intentions and motives. Motives are important, but not more important than the question of whether the actual plan worked as intended – or whether a reasonable observer could have foreseen the outcome.

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  1. Pingback: “How Not to Help the Poor: The Lesson of Soaring College Prices” | Intellectual Imperialism

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