The Welfare Reform Act of 1996, which was applied conservatism, happened because empirical data convinced enough Democrats of the costs of welfare dependency. Charles Murray, the most consequential and conservative contemporary social scientist ("Losing Ground," "Coming Apart"), depends on ACS and other census surveys. Sociologist Peter Rossi, a liberal Democrat and an accomplished analyst of social programs, formulated two "metallic rules" of policy evaluation. The Iron Law is: "The expected value of any net impact assessment of any large scale social program is zero." The Stainless Steel Law is: "The better designed the impact assessment of a social program, the more likely is the resulting estimate of net impact to be zero."
Clearly, conservatives should favor the nation applying to itself the injunction "Know thyself." Besides, if conservatives do not think information about society — the more the merrier — strengthens their case, why are they conservatives?
George Will's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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