Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

McCord: Fixing Society's Woes Calls for Measurement

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

McCord: Fixing Society's Woes Calls for Measurement

Article excerpt

By Darrell Morrow

Feature Editor

Health, environment, crime, deficit and education are key issues on the minds of most Americans and issues that need attention in the United States today.

Those were key issues of a presentation by Rob McCord, executive director of the Congressional Institute for the Future, Washington, D.C., at the annual conference of the Oklahoma Academy for State Goals Thursday. The academy's eighth annual conference continues through today at the Lincoln Plaza Hotel in Oklahoma City.

"If you have a problem, think about how you will measure your approach to that problem. There is a moral responsibility to think through the measurement. If you want to change a culture, change what's measured.

"In our society, people hear about, yell about and think about crisis and income. A lot of our culture is driven by that.

"When you have people measuring grades in school or how well you perform, that is an indication of your culture."

Correction of problems results only from accurately measuring how well a system is working, McCord said.

McCord said failure is a part of success.

"Fear of failure can stop you from trying. If you don't try, then you don't advance."

Government and political programs are seldom measured for rates of success, he said.

"You never hear politicians say: `We tried this and it didn't work. We measured it rapidly, we dumped it rapidly and we tried something new.' Everything they tried worked. It is like the football coach that said every play that we diagrammed worked, but then you say: `But coach, why is your record 2 and 11 if everything worked?'

"If you have a problem, figure out a way to measure your progress even if it is a pet, darling thing that you want to try. Whether it is a Big Brother project or something else that you are sure is good, measure it to see if it is working, because you not only have an obligation to see that it is doing no harm, but you have a greater obligation to work and spend our resources in ways that they will do the most good.

"You can't possibly get to that end without a means of constant experimentation and measurement," McCord said.

Approaches and ideas are going to vary in dealing with the key government issues involving health care, environment, crime, deficit and education depending upon whether individuals are conservative or liberal.

He defined, in simple terms, a conservative as "someone who can comfortably live with the existing system," and a liberal as "someone who wants to replace the current problems of the system with a whole new set of problems." Health care _ McCord speculated that there would be differences in regions that may cause proposed changes in health care not to work in some areas. He cited rural western Oklahoma as one area there would not likely be enough health care service competition to curb high cost problems.

"I am confident a whole new set of problems will crop up and that health care quality will vary slightly from region to region," he said. …

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