Observations Based on my Policy Arena Experiences

Good solutions can come from liberal or conservative statemen, depending on the issue. The best statesmen:

  • look to Laws, the Constitution, ethics, and long-term concerns as a basis of their actions;

  • do not confuse the roles of expert witnesses, advocacy groups, and decision-makers;

  • understand the importance of trade-offs and “tradeoff analyses.” They are polite, but do not pay much attention to “single-issue advocates.”

Biggest frustrations, poor results, and unintended consequences generally result when:

  • The appropriate decision-analysis process is bypassed, whether from ignorance or power;

  • The truth is misrepresented, or advocacy groups discredit expert witnesses and establish their advocacy as expert testimony.

Policymakers generally act on things agreed upon with other policymakers. And, they appreciate being told solutions—especially win-win solutions—not problems. They generally have so many things to address that they prefer accomplishing things, rather than spending time on seemingly intractable problems.

Policymakers are cautious and generally do not act quickly or change their minds quickly. Consequently, a single testimony, report, or meeting will not change government actions. Rather, such expert activities help lead to an understanding and, hopefully, a consensus.