Quick post today: I was fascinated to read this article in The New York Times on an experiment in poverty policy that’s taking place in my former stomping grounds, the big apple. Some poor people are being paid up to a maximum of $5,000 per year for doing such things as attending parent-teacher conferences and other desirable behaviors of a responsible citizen. A lot of people are bothered by it, but I say why the hell not try out this approach to social engineering, study the results in the subject group and the control group, and then decide if it’s worth further investment. I’m glad to see that MDRC will keep it all very scientific and rigorous. (You detect skepticism? No, I’m sure it will be good research, even if such studies often tend to be more slippery than they appear on the surface.)
As an aside, when I read the article it seemed odd to me that the Times wrote M.D.R.C. rather than MDRC, because I had never seen the use of periods in MDRC’s name. The periods launched me into a bit of nostalgia for that mouthful of a name they used to go by, Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, which always made me feel you’d definitely be getting your money’s worth in a research report from them. Out of curiosity, I made a quick visit to MDRC’s website and noticed this (somewhat irritated?) request on the What is MDRC? page: “When referring to our organization, please use MDRC as the proper citation…” [emphasis is mine]. Well, at least the Times shortened it down to just the letters even if they couldn’t resist inserting some periods just to piss off a prickly researcher or two.