Why is this blog “Not About Quality?”

The title honors the most honest statement ever made by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). On Thursday, February 3, 2011, Senator Paul made the following statement about his own amendment on the Senate floor:

“Mr. President, this amendment is not about quality.”

Indeed, the amendment was not about quality. It exempted contractors for FAA projects from requirements to pay workers the prevailing wage in their area (known as Davis-Bacon rules). Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) opposed the amendment with studies showing that contractors who pay prevailing wages deliver better work. That argument wasn’t persuasive to Senator Paul, since after all, this is not about quality.

For too many politicians, public policy is not about quality. Legislation is written to support talking points, instead of writing talking points to support legislation. Budgets are debated as if they are just numbers on a page, without examining whether the programs next to those numbers are worthwhile or not. Making government work better doesn’t interest Senator Paul and his fellow travelers, because government is inherently bad, and this is not about quality.

But it should be about quality. Getting public policy right determines whether we are assured a dignified retirement with Social Security and Medicare, whether our schools give all children an honest shot at the American Dream, and whether our military can defend us at home and secure our interests around the world. It’s not enough to say “Support the troops.” If those troops and veterans are going to get the health care they earned, it really matters whether the military and VA can ever figure out how to make their health record systems talk to each other (they can’t now).

This blog aspires to be about quality, despite the title’s suggestion to the contrary. Which policies are working, which are not, and how do we make it better?

Also, every so often I’ll complain about the Redskins.