Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Policy = spending

Over on PASystem, the Fundy Post's Paul Litterick makes an important point: policies = spending. To flesh it out a bit, the standard definition of "policy", which you'll find at the front of any textbook on the subject, is that it is about the allocation of government resources in pursuit of a goal. These resources come in many forms - the power to make and enforce laws is a resource, for example - but they also cost money. So at the end of the day, policy requires spending. How much depends on what you're trying to do and how, but it all costs money in one way or another.

So, what the Herald's "porkometer" actually tells us is that the government has lots of policies (some of them quite expensive). The other thing it tells us is that six months out from an election, National has almost none (or at least, none that it cares to tell us, the voters, about).

It would be nice, with an election coming up, to know what we were actually voting for, and to have some idea of the alternatives. But I guess our political journalists just aren't interested in telling us.