Policy hamburger

A few weeks ago I had an idea for an article. I would set out the arguments in favor of a political position which I deeply want to be true. And then, I would set out the evidence which proves that it’s actually false. The idea is that if you’re really in favor of evidence-based policy, you’ll be in favor of it even when your own sacred cows are being made into policy hamburger — so why not demonstrate that with an article?

There was just one problem, though: I couldn’t think of a good example subject. I decided to wait until one presented itself. Last week, Martin Robbins in The Guardian saved me the effort when he wrote about tuition fees for university.

It’s obvious that today’s costly tuition fees are a major deterrent to poorer people going to university — if you make it expensive to get a degree, that’s clearly going to favor the wealthy. Increasing tuition fees will dramatically reduce the number of poorer people going to university.

Obvious, but also wrong