Outcomes Over Intentions

In politics, as in most of life, intentions don’t matter. That is, they’re not operative; they are difficult to identify with any certainty, mutable, subjective, and intricately non-exclusive. In short, worrying, or caring, about intentions is wasteful, and harmful to public discourse. Results impact people’s lives, they are operative. They are what matter.

Michael Rizzo, more cynically but more accurately, puts it this way:

“In the event you forgot what the priorities of your government are, health care is not about health care, education is not about education, road building is not about transportation, national defense is not about defending us, agricultural policy is not about better and safer food, and environmental policy is certainly not about the environment”.

Around here we’ve certainly seen what happens when the veil of intentions get pulled back from education policy. Families get hurt, children get screwed, and vested interests get protected. If you thought this was a unique phenomenon surrounding teachers unions, you’re mistaken. Radley Balko explains:

A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has rejected an Oregon man’s petition for habeas corpus relief (PDF). This despite acknowledging that the man has established actual innocence for the crimes for which he’s being imprisoned (sexual abuse and sodomy of a four-year-old). The reason: He was late filing his petition. By the panel’s reckoning, adherence to an arbitrary deadline created by legislators is a higher value than not continuing to imprison people we know to be innocent.

New York criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield comments:

…in the rare case where a defendant can prove that he did not commit the crime, but the information or evidence doesn’t manage to come into his hands until more than a year after the exhaustion of remedies, even if the cause is concealment by the government or incompetence by his lawyer, the 9th Circuit told us their truth.  They don’t care.  They just don’t care.

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