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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Democracy 250

Posted By on Sun, Sep 28, 2008 at 4:22 PM

I'm curious what people think of Democracy 250. My take is that the whole thing is part tourism promotion, part get-out-the-vote, part, well, graft. But even if you don't agree with that last part (and I'm open to persuasion), I'd like to know how we measure the first two.

I called Democracy 250 and asked how they would know if the get out the vote effort was successful or not, and they basically told me, well, we hope it works. Seems to me there should be some sort of metric, a yardstick to use to judge if the dollar expenditure is reflected in the desired results. To some degree this is a matter of pulling numbers out of thin air-- $10 million should result in a voter turnout that's X percentage higher than last election. Of course there's a gazillion other factors that can skew the results-- candidates that either do or do not grab the public's interest, the weather on election day, the dynamics of any individual riding (Gloria McCluskey is acclaimed, so the turnout for the school board election in that part of Dartmouth will likely be way down), etc, etc.

Maybe it's just a matter of hoping, after all, but still worth it. Personally, I don't see it. Let the candidates and parties worry about increasing voter turnout, and leave the government out of it. There's just too much opportunity for kickbacks to ad firms, bloated salaries, etc.

On the tourism promotion front, I feel the same way. How do you measure success? Seems like every time tourism goes down, the reason is shitty weather, or the tanking American dollar, or the price of gas. But when tourism goes up, credit goes to the brilliant minds in charge of tourism promotion.

The problem with not having a cause-and-effect yardstick is that without it, we can't know the appropriate amount to spend on the effort--- $0 or $1 billion or somewhere in between, and if in between, how much, exactly, and why?

Like I said, I'm open to counter-arguments, but so far I haven't seen anything that convinces me this is a good idea.

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