A problem in policy deliberations is the uncertainty about the actual effects of programs and policies. On the basis of the enormous number of evaluation studies, would we have high confidence in recommending a series of programs? If the smallest doubt undermines confidence in the reliability of these voluminous reports, can it be that research efforts, as well as the process of policy development, need their own reevaluation? One area of neglect is the lack of attention paid to the quality of administration and leadership in conducting programs. The result of benefit-cost and other research approaches is to downplay or ignore administration, a common failing of policy innovators like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson that should not be continued by the model builders and evaluators of today.
In today's political and cultural climate, paid employment is an ascendant goal. We cannot divert our attention from it, at least not in the short run, while governmental spending is contracting and family budgets are strained. The political approach recommended here is to deal with the broad problems of employment and, in this context, to try to improve the situation of those in poor economic situations and with low job prospects. A variety of policies are available. The once-fond hope that "tight full employment" would solve all problems, including those of disadvantaged workers, is not realistic. Nor would such a goal solve all employment issues. What is needed is a mix of policies that avoids a mixup of policies.
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