Did you ever have to try to reform or redesign a real-world program?
When I was in law school, I took a course that focused on the welfare system. We were assigned to read reams of papers detailing all the things that were wrong with welfare, and as you can imagine there were plenty of them.
And then we were given the assignment to design a better system. That was both a humbling and an edifying experience, one I wish everyone could have.
That was only an academic exercise, but many years later I was part of a panel that made recommendations for divorce law reform. We did something similar in terms of process—studied the laws in many states in order to figure out what model might be best for our state. The result was the same: the complexity of the matters involved and the law of unintended consequences kept rearing their ugly little heads. We ended up with something that no one really liked, but it was the best we could do.
And believe me, we were really really trying our best.
It’s easy to sit at home at a keyboard and figure out what we might do if we were in power. No, actually, even that isn’t so easy; for example, I’ve never come up with what I consider a good plan for health care reform, one that I think would actually work well in the real world.
And even if I could, to implement it I’d have to get all those other politicians to agree on it. Good luck with that.