We see “Moneyball for ____!” analogies pretty often. This time we get one for the whole dang U.S. government. Here, in the Daily Beast, after describing the basics of “Moneyball” and the 2002 Oakland A’s, the writers observe that government programs can — shocker! — be inefficient. Then say:
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to decades of social-science research, we know more about how to help struggling Americans than ever before. And in this era of impact-blind, across-the-board budget cuts, we see an opportunity. Like Billy Beane and the A’s, these lean times offer us a chance to reevaluate how we measure success and to shift our focus to what works.
I’m all for efficiency, but if you think it has been hard to get baseball teams and fans to appreciate data-driven strategies, think how much fun it will be to get politicians and bureaucrats to get on board with that. And that’s before we acknowledge that a great many of them are fully aware of the data at play but simply choose to ignore it because it doesn’t satisfy their actual ends, which oftentimes are not quant ideas like “governance.” I mean, say what you want about how the Phillies approach sabermetrics, but at the end of the day, they want to win baseball games just like every other team does. Can’t say that everyone in power sees eye-to-eye on what the ends are.
Oh, and if the plans don’t work, the government can’t just flip Josh Donaldson to Toronto, tear things down and start over.
But hey. Worth a try. Heck, let’s make Billy Beane the President of the United States. That would make us the best country in the world!