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June 06, 2014

A Leading Indicator for Government Inefficiency

When government suddenly stops measuring the effects of its policies, one has to wonder if part of the problem is that they've closed their minds to negative feedback:

Congressional budget scorekeepers said they can no longer measure the fiscal impact of many provisions of ObamaCare because the task is impossible.

In a little-noticed footnote from April, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said it will continue to assess the effects of the law's exchange subsidies and the Medicaid expansion, while not tracking others.

"The provisions that expand insurance coverage established entirely new programs or components of programs that can be isolated and reassessed," the office wrote.

"In contrast, other provisions of the Affordable Care Act significantly modified existing federal programs and made changes to the Internal Revenue Code.

"Isolating the incremental effects of those provisions on previously existing programs and revenues four years after enactment of the Affordable Care Act is not possible."

...It means that measuring the healthcare law's effect on the budget deficit will be much more difficult, if not impossible. The CBO is normally the best source of information on bills' projected fiscal effects.

How conveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenient. We are reminded of a similarly brazen tactic that makes it difficult/impossible to assess how admitting women to the combat arms impacts military readiness:

Question 1: What effect does pregnancy have on combat readiness?

This is anything but a frivolous question, given the high rate of unplanned pregnancies in active duty females:

Nearly 11% of more than 7,000 active-duty women surveyed by the Department of Defense in 2008 reported an unplanned pregnancy during the previous year....

Unplanned pregnancies can have a significant impact on the health of military personnel and on troop readiness, according to the study.
Servicewomen who become pregnant unexpectedly while at home cannot be deployed, which may affect their career. Servicewomen who become pregnant while overseas must be sent home, which can cost the military around $10,000.

The military's response to the problem of non-deployable women is alarming. Faced with Gulf War-era studies that showed that women were three times less likely to be deployable than men, how did the Department of Defense respond?

If you guessed, "They stopped keeping track" of how pregnancies affect deployability, a stuffed marmoset is on its way to you by parcel post:

"We're definitely not tracking it," said a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which runs the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I've been attending operations briefings for two years, and I don't think I have heard once that pregnancy has come up."

Let's repeat that statistic: for various reasons, during the Gulf war women were unable to deploy at rates over 3 times those of their male counterparts. This is a big deal, and it will have a far greater impact on readiness if women are admitted to the combat arms. Is there more recent data? There should be, and if there isn't the Department of Defense should explain why not.

You wingnuts can't prove ObamaCare is adding to the deficit because we're not going to track the stats that would make it possible to establish whether it is or is not doing so.

And you can't prove that admitting women to the combat arms will harm readiness because we're just going to stop tracking metrics like unplanned pregnancy rates (and - we suspect - women's injury rates relative to men's).

If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.

Posted by Cassandra at June 6, 2014 07:00 AM

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Comments

"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."

"If you can't measure it, it doesn't exist, and therefore isn't a problem."

There, fify.
Velcome.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at June 6, 2014 12:15 PM

...(and - we suspect - women's injury rates relative to men's).

I wonder if that's true. Every DIV-level BUB I ever attended had a slide on injury rates, return to duty status, etc. The CG tended to want to know every morning, in other words, for every soldier in his division.

I don't think I ever saw a male/female breakout, though.

Posted by: Grim at June 6, 2014 12:47 PM

You assume they want to manage it. Maybe they want only to manage opinions and expectations about it, in which case a refusal to measure the results is completely rational. Why let facts mess up a good narrative?

More and more the standard response to being caught in a lie is "What difference does it make?" They're being almost admirably open about the irrelevance of telling the truth in matters big or small. And if voters continue electing them, they'll have been proved correct.

Posted by: Tevye at June 6, 2014 12:57 PM

Empty chairs, empty minds, empty souls.

Posted by: htom at June 6, 2014 02:50 PM

I wonder if that's true. Every DIV-level BUB I ever attended had a slide on injury rates, return to duty status, etc. The CG tended to want to know every morning, in other words, for every soldier in his division....I don't think I ever saw a male/female breakout, though.

Two thoughts:

1. There's a difference between a unit leader tracking injury rates and a service (or DoD) doing so. Parris Island has to track recruit injuries and they do so by sex b/c the RTBs are segregated by sex (so 4th BN's stats are for women, 1/2/3 are for men), but I don't know that this is service-wide or takes place in mixed sex units.

2. I'm basing my skepticism on a blend of experience and observations whilst at the Naval Academy. DACOWITZ were pretty hostile to voicing inconvenient truths about differences between the sexes. It would be funny if it weren't so infuriating!

Posted by: Cassandra at June 6, 2014 03:00 PM

Hi Cass,
Dreadful topic for us (honest) Navy guys. I'm old enough to have witnessed the large scale expansion of women in the Navy first hand. Unvarnished observations:
- in general, women have individually been fine Sailors, and a welcome addition to Divisions.
- please ignore the 'unplanned' pregnancy issue; it is a minor issue, and mostly irrelevant. The base issue us that young women of child bearing age tend to become pregnant at the same rate as the rest if the population. And once pregnant, cannot deploy to sea. Yet as they remain part of ship's company, there is no replacement derailed for them during their absence . . . Which directly means that every ship w women embarked is condemned to be short handed by about 25% of the assigned female crew.
>>> I've served w quite a few women as a Reservist in shore billets, and there was no systemic issue.
- much worse, there is an insidious effect on onboard crew morale and cohesiveness. This is NOT the fault of the women, it is simple human nature. When a small group if women are mixed w a mostly male crew, the guys behave like guys, which interferes with ordinary ship discipline (proper behavior, not punishment regime).

Very Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at June 8, 2014 02:07 AM

Some possibly relevant data on injury rates: Women basketball players are more likely to be inured than men, in college and the pros, in spite of the fact that they run a little slower and don't jump quite as high.

As I understand it, the basic reason for this difference is simple: On the average, men have bones, muscles, and tendons with larger cross sections, so they can take greater impacts without breaks.

(At one time, I was playing noon basketball games in a gym used by a women's basketball team at a big university. It was striking how many of the women were injured, so many that, from time to time, they didn't have enough players to run a five-on-five formal scrimmage.)

Posted by: Jim Miller at June 8, 2014 09:48 PM

CAPT Mike, if it's 25%, is it too obvious to assign 134% of the female crew requirement to the ship, producing 100% at deployment? There might be a few over or under, and they're not going to exactly match the position requirements, but either would surely be better than expecting a 25% deficit!

Posted by: htom at June 9, 2014 01:36 AM

"CAPT Mike, if it's 25%, is it too obvious to assign 134% of the female crew requirement to the ship, producing 100% at deployment? There might be a few over or under, and they're not going to exactly match the position requirements, but either would surely be better than expecting a 25% deficit!"

Ah, but wouldn't that be Acknowledging Differences That Must Not Be Named?

Posted by: Matt at June 9, 2014 06:56 AM

When I detroyed my ACL, I did a lot of research on the injury, surgery, and rehab protocols because I know little/nothing about sports related injuries.

Women are 4-6 times as likely to get ACL injuries than men. There are two physical reasons:

1. Female hormones designed to allow our bodies to adjust to pregnancy and childbirth make our tendons and ligaments looser.

2. Because our hips are broader than mens', our femurs (thigh bones) come into the knee at an angle where mens' femurs join the knee making the entire thigh-knee-lower leg look something more like a straight line. The angled configuration places more stress on the knee - it's not designed to take as much punishment.

Add that to your thicker bones and you've got a physical vulnerability.

When I went in for my pre-op with the surgeon, he talked about the recent ACL surgeries he had done. All were on girls/women and most were on young female athletes. One of them went right back out and tore hers again (she had to have the operation again).

In my sports clinic, a large number of folks are in there with ACL repairs or knee replacements. Almost all are female.

The guys seem to be there for shoulder and back issues and there are a few foot/hip ones. But the disparity is striking (though I realize this isn't anywhere near a robust sample of the general population).

Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2014 07:10 AM

Mike:

Here's why I mention unplanned pregnancies. They're higher among adult and married women than people realize. A frequent rebuttal to the "pregnancy" argument is, "But they can use birth control".

Fine, but from the stats we know that people *don't* use birth control. Saying they "can" use it is irrelevant if a significant number of couples don't in fact use it effectively.

Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2014 07:13 AM

Ah, but wouldn't that be Acknowledging Differences That Must Not Be Named?

Exactly :p

Posted by: Cass at June 9, 2014 07:15 AM

Hi htom,
Matt & Cass have it exactly right:
'Ah, but wouldn't that be Acknowledging Differences That Must Not Be Named?

Exactly :p'


Posted by: CAPT Mike at June 9, 2014 05:26 PM

The stupidity of the human male should never astonish me.

Posted by: htom at June 9, 2014 11:52 PM

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