Notes from a lunch conversation

Had lunch friday with an old friend, a career civil servant at the Senior Executive Service level. Here’s what he thinks about life in Washington about now:

Did you ever think you’d look back on the Reagan Administration as the good old days? Those folks were ideological, but once they’d decided what to do they were willing to ask people who knew for facts relevant to how to do it.

The current crowd doesn’t think they need that. They simply say what the Truth is, and if anyone disagrees they simply say it again, louder.

And since they never talk to anyone but one another, they egg one another on to the point where they can believe absolutely anything, and act on it. It’s government by assertion.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com