Value vs. Details

In any policy debate there is both a question of values and a technical question. Muddling this distinction inevitably leads to confusion and often worse. There is little to be gained, except frustration and mistrust, in debating technocratic details when there is fundamental disagreement about what you are trying to accomplish.

 Prematurely, shifting a discussion about goals into a discussion about tactics or effectiveness is a clever tacticof obstruction. Discussing, solutions before committing to action is an ideal position to block any progress. It is far easier to reject any given solution to a problem than to declare your opposition to solving this problem.

 There are a variety of policies on the table to improve the job market; each, with its benefits and risks. Selecting the right mix of fiscal stimulus, monetary policy and regulatory reforms should be a wonky exercise in studying the economic literature and reviewing the empirical data. But before this discussion can occur, a commitment to the underlying goal must be established. Whenever you are engaging in a debate you should always be aware of where your disagreement lies.


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