"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, January 28, 2013

What Difference Does It Make?

Peter Kirsanow at NRO has the best thing I've read in a long time:

The media are enamored of what they perceive as Hillary Clinton’s witty riposte to Senator Johnson during the Benghazi hearings. Conservatives should employ the same question as often as possible. It’s more appropriately directed at the following:
The War on Poverty. $15,000,000,000,000 has been spent by the federal and state governments on 122 separate welfare programs since 1964, according to a Cato analysis. The poverty rate in 1964 was 19 percent and falling. Nearly 50 years later, the rate is still more than 15 percent and climbing. What difference, at this point, does trillions in welfare spending make?
The Department of Education. The department was created in 1980 for the express purpose of improving U.S. students’ academic performance. Since then, per pupil K-12 spending has increased (in constant dollars) from approximately $6,000 annually to $12,500. Hundreds of billions have been spent by the department since 1980, yet the scores for the nation’s 17-year-olds on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — called “the nation’s report card” — have remained unchanged, and U.S performance is slipping relative to other nations. What difference, at this point, does the Department of Education make?
The Stimulus. The Obama administration promised that if Congress passed the $814,000,000,000 stimulus, unemployment today would be 5.2 percent. It’s now 7.8 percent, and as noted by James Pethokoukis, had millions not dropped out of the job market the unemployment rate today would be 10.7 percent — nearly three points higher than when the stimulus was passed. What difference, at this point, did the stimulus make?
Head Start. The program was created in 1965 to, among other things, improve the cognitive performance of poor kids. Hundreds of billions have been spent on the program, but recent studies show it does nothing for the cognitive abilities of kids enrolled in the program, with any transient benefits disappearing by the time the kids reach third grade. What difference, at this point, does Head Start make?

Read the whole thing.

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