April 15, 2004

Choose Metrics Wisely

Viking Pundit nails it when he notes John Kerry's new misery index includes some elements that are beyond the rightful power of government to intervene in. Personal bankruptcies are often borne of personal choices. You just have to get that bit of consumer electronics bliss and it sets you back beyond what you can pay off the next month and you spiral downwards from there.

So what's government supposed to do in such situations? All it really can do that won't make matters worse is to become some sort of national scold, guilting people into lowering their purchase of items they don't truly need until they actually have money to buy them. Personal bankruptcies, in extraordinary circumstances, do show some government caused pain but such circumstances are associated with other metrics like obscenely high interest rates and high unemployment. Choosing what you measure is going to affect what you concentrate on in terms of policy. Everybody wants to be able to brag that they've made whatever metrics are used better since they've been on the job. Choosing metrics that the government shouldn't be directly influencing is one way to guarantee government morphs even further beyond what it is supposed to be doing.

Posted by TMLutas at April 15, 2004 08:58 AM