Data Driven, or Not

When The Week­ly Stan­dard began pub­lish­ing back in 1995 they ini­tial­ly gave the sub­scrip­tions away for free. I received an offer for the free sub­scrip­tion and I glad­ly accept­ed. I assumed that they bought the mail­ing list from The New Repub­lic to which I was a long time subscriber.

My mem­o­ry is that the free sub­scrip­tion con­tin­ued for two years, but maybe it was only one. At any rate, there was a decent length of time where I was read­ing both The New Repub­lic and The Week­ly Stan­dard on a week­ly basis.

I was struck by one dif­fer­ence in par­tic­u­lar between the two mag­a­zines. Arti­cles in The New Repub­lic, even when labeled “opin­ion”, were almost always data dri­ven; arti­cles in The Week­ly Stan­dard were rarely data driven.

Over the years I have come to think that this may be one of the defin­ing dif­fer­ences between lib­er­als and con­ser­v­a­tives. Con­ser­v­a­tives stand on prin­ci­ple, con­se­quences be damned. Lib­er­als are inter­est­ed in results and are pre­pared to make changes when the results are unacceptable.

And yes, the above is not true for every con­ser­v­a­tive and liberal.

But it may well be true for Texas Gov­er­nor and can­di­date for pres­i­dent Rick Per­ry. This post at The New Repub­lic has a won­der­ful video of Per­ry try­ing to square his prin­ci­ples with reality.

Who Puts a Value on a Life?

I am not sure (but I think so) if it made it into Health Care Reform, but there is no deny­ing that many lib­er­als want what the right referred to as “death pan­els”. Of course, not death pan­els, but a method of deter­mi­nat­ing what treat­ments are not effec­tive, includ­ing treat­ments that give lit­tle val­ue for a high price.

Con­ser­v­a­tives con­tin­ue to insist that the first Health Care Reform that should be passed is mal­prac­tice reform includ­ing lim­its on jury awards. Pre­sum­ably, such lim­its would include cas­es where death was the result.

Who wants to put a dol­lar val­ue on a life?