Political Science

November 1, 2008

Not just a Randy Newman song.The standard joke is that any field that includes “Science” in its name, isn’t. However, sometimes we do run experiments. Here are a few:

There’s about 20 countries with universal health care, all spending less per capita than we do, all with greater life expectancy, more healthy years, and lower infant mortality. If it were just one or two countries, maybe there would be some other reason or explanation, but twenty?

In the US, to promote bicycling and bicycle safety, we’ve mostly been doing something called “Effective Cycling”. We’re supposed to be vehicles, riding with the cars, bike paths are unnecessary and/or bad. In northern Europe, they built a boatload of paths and lanes, and have special treatment for bicycles in various places (2-way for bikes, 1-way for cars). Turns out bike lanes work better, lots better — lots more people ride bikes, and they’re safe, too.

We’ve had a serious test of trickle-down economics during the Bush administration. Turns out it didn’t work; the “boom” we had, did not result in increased real wages to the middle class.

Here in Massachusetts, we’ve been guinea pigs for gay marriage. Thus far, it’s been a total win — nobody has used the gay marriage ruling (it was decided by judges) to try to marry their dog, or their inflatable doll, or more than one partner. No plagues of locusts, either. On the other hand, gay couples got married, and were happy.

And remember, negative results ARE useful. They tell you what not to do again.

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