All in Social Policy

By Anna Kawar, staff editor So, the government averted a shutdown. Again. To be honest, I’m not even sure what to attribute this “success” to. Everything has become so jumbled that it’s hard to follow who the “heroes” are—especially with the budget debate turning into outright moral warfare. I read this Russian joke used in reference to what has been happening, and I think it’s a perfect way to describe recent events: "We were at the edge of the cliff. Now we've taken a giant step forward."

By Patricia Liever, staff editor The easiest explanation for the housing crisis is to chalk it all up to “bad behavior”. Families took out mortgages on houses they could not afford, banks made predatory and irresponsible loans, and Wall Street packaged worthless securities and knowingly sold them to pension funds and Icelandic banks all in a scheme to make a quick buck. This explanation of how we got here is easy to understand, but ignores the structural mechanisms that allowed it all to happen. The majority of these “bad behaviors” were completely legal – if not encouraged - under the system of laws and regulations that governed the housing finance market prior to the passage of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform legislation.

By Thomas Lowdermilk, staff editor With every gun tragedy come the same calls for increased gun control, to which the gun lobby always cries foul. The tragedy in Arizona has followed this predictable trajectory. Unfortunately, the NRA’s stranglehold on Congress has only gotten tighter in recent years. Thus, the legislative proposals currently under consideration, which range from absurdly impractical to only marginally effective, have virtually no prospect of passage.

By Amy Kochanowsky, staff editor While cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is nearly ubiquitous in all fields of public policy, we must be cautious about when and where it is applied, because it assumes that all outcomes can be quantified in monetary terms. If asked to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of a school program, would you be able to measure all of the outcomes? Can you put a dollar value on the satisfaction and self confidence of a child? When reducing results like this to a dollar value, you are most certainly losing something in the calculation. This is the cost of CBA.

By Agustina Laurito, staff editor Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, an opportunity to reflect on the efforts, accomplishments and obstacles toward ending violence against women. As part of those efforts, the international community and national governments have adopted legal standards against gender violence. Despite the different instruments, lack of adequate enforcement and implementation has often resulted in tragic failures to protect women from violence.

By Matt Vigeant, staff editor In a world where a college education has become the norm, the newly enhanced GI Bill benefits will aid in educating those who have answered our nation’s call to service, and make them more productive members of society. As past GI Bills have shown, this isn’t only good for veterans; it is good for the economy and America’s prosperity. But above all, this is a proper way for America to say thank you to people who have sacrificed so much. The Post 9/11 GI Bill is a fitting evolution of a public policy that created the prosperity of the 1950’s, and will create prosperity for the next generation of veterans.

By Gillian Grissom, staff editor A recent New York Times article observes the blossoming friendship between Big Beverage and interest groups opposed to New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed plan to redefine eligible items for purchase under SNAP. While the beverage lobbies initially seem unlikely partners for what the author calls the “[t]raditional, old-line liberals in the shaggy, idealistic, antihunger, antipoverty sector,” the groups have plenty on which to agree regarding this proposed policy modification.While I typically cast myself in the “shaggier” camp, I do think Bloomberg might be on to something here.