In a paraphrase of Yogi Berra's immortal words, we came to a fork in the road and we took it. Which is all in the way of introducing this issue of the New England Journal of Public Policy. The articles featured here, while spanning a very broad spectrum of public policy, have several unifying themes. They are all case studies in one way or another of the incompetence that is an essential feature of the public policy process in a democratic culture, of the constraints in the way of making change, no matter how obviously desirable or in the interest of the public good; of the propensity for the human dimension to unglue the most well-conceived plans; of the inefficiencies that are the hallmark of consultation and transparency and the even greater inefficiencies that accompany non-transparency and lack of consultation; of the necessity, if practitioners are to have a snowball's chance of achieving successful outcomes, of being able to define with what I venture to call severe clarity the objectives of policy, the interests of the various stakeholders, the strategies that must be deployed to accommodate the often competing interests these constituencies represent, of the powerful and frequently underestimated influence of self-interest and outright prejudice, invariably involved in the guise of noble altruism, in what gets done and how it gets done. To some extent the latter is reassuring; no model of policy design, no plan of policy implementation, no consideration of process, no exercise in outreach, no limit of communication, consultation, and inclusion is immune to the vagaries of the human personalities involved. In the end we are at the mercy of our foibles, not the World Wide Web. The Internet that counts is in the back of our heads, not in the guts of our toy machines.
New England Journal of Public Policy:
1, Article 2.
Available at: http://scholarworks.umb.edu/nejpp/vol12/iss1/2