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Friday, July 2, 2010

The Policy Litmus Test

Related Link » Litmus test (chemistry)
“Litmus is a water-soluble mixture of different dyes [that] is often absorbed onto filter paper to produce one of the oldest forms of pH indicator, used to test materials for acidity [versus basicity or alkalinity]. […] Litmus can also be prepared as an aqueous solution that functions similarly. Under acidic conditions the solution is red, and under basic conditions the solution is blue.”
— From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
It has become almost a daily occurrence that a major policy is proposed by the Federal government that would affect large portions of the electorate. In most cases such policy proposals are very contentious, and are immediately and heatedly debated in all the media, most especially in the blogosphere. Flame wars break out along political-affiliation lines and the screaming matches go viral. As a consequence, there is seldom any; virtually no one can be persuaded by the opposition's arguments.

But there is a way for people to evaluate the merits (or the absence thereof) of any policy, in the quiet privacy of one's own mind: the policy litmus test. The test proceeds as follows.

Suppose we want to determine for ourselves whether a proposed policy is likely to have overwhelmingly negative unintended (and/or in many cases intended) consequences, as such proposals are most likely to have. Ask yourself, again in the privacy of your own mind, are the sponsors of the proposed policy marketing the policy truthfully? You see, the key to the policy litmus test is first and foremost based (no pun intended) on the manner of its marketing, and only secondarily on its perceived merits. If it is being sold to the public as something other than what knowledgeable commentators (especially those from the opposition) analyze its likely impact to be, then regardless of whether or not you support its likely impact, you should reject the policy! Why? Because policy that is packaged and marketed as something it is not is invariably toxic.

Since both acids and bases are toxic, let us agree that if the result of our policy litmus test indicates that the policy marketing is basically (pun intended) a lie, we will call it alkaline, or caustic, because caustic soda (a common base) is also known as lye.

Let's take a litmus test for The Obama's current push for "immigration reform" policy. Whether you are willing to accept publicly (or not) that, however He sells it, The Obama's denied intention is to grant amnesty to the millions of aliens who entered our country illegally, then it is very likely that this is very bad policy, regardless of how you actually feel about wholesale amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. And the reason is clear (pH neutral): if He thought it was good policy, why would He promote it as something other than what his true intentions are?

Fails Policy Litmus Test                                     h/t Theo

Post #1,341 The Policy Litmus Test

1 comment:

  1. Precisely.

    I can't wait to see the title of the immigration reform bill. It's going to be a howler.