Of course, the answer to that question will also help determine whether the American public should fear budget cuts to federal social programs. Readers, says author David B. Muhlhausen, can rest easy. As his book decisively demonstrates, scientifically rigorous national studies almost unanimously find that the federal government fails to solve social problems. To prove his point, Muhlhausen reports on large-scale evaluations of social programs for children, families, and workers, some advocated by Democrats, some by Republicans. But it isn’t just the results that matter. It’s the lesson to readers on how Americans can—and should—accurately assess government programs that cost hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
At the book’s core is an insistence that we move beyond anecdotal reasoning and often-partisan opinion to measure the effectiveness of social programs using objective analysis and scientific methods. At the very least, the results of such analysis will, like this book, provide a sound basis for much-needed public debate.