Why a blog?

Years ago, I started a newsletter. By fax or email.  Email was the new technology then.  My purpose then was to share my “finds” with fellow social policy wonks.  I had more time to “find” things than most, as I was working as a consultant, when so many other wonks were employed by non-government organizations (sometimes focussed on research, sometimes on advocacy, sometimes both) or by government.  Most were focussed in a particular area or groups of areas, while my work has me all over the social policy map: literacy, disability, human rights, income security, housing, homelessness, voluntary sector, health equity. I was excited to communicate to my peers.

That excitement continues, even though the technology has changed. (And believe me, a blog is WAY easier than trying to figure out how to manage email subscriptions.  But more than the technology has changed.  Like many of my peers, I am now looking at those coming behind me, and believe I have things to share for the beginning social policy wonk, my future peers, as well as my current peers.

In my current job, I am fortunate to work with some of the brightest, best educated and passionate wonks ever.  With more and more schools focussing on public policy, we see graduates who have had a passion about law, politics, public administration and even public policy itself for years.  They are so much better prepared than I was, stumbling into a field I’d never heard of, and learning mostly from my peers at the time.  They know so much more, and have research and writing skills to support their passion of remarkable quality.  What they don’t have (yes) is experience. And history.

Too often, it seems to them that all the problems of today are the same as those of yesterday, and nothing has change; nothing has improved.  This is simply not true.  The problems are the same, but things have changed, and in some cases, for the better. And we know much more about what works and what doesn’t.

Also, they have yet to learn the tools, the tricks of the trade.  The seminal documents (current and historical) in many social policy fields.  (It took me 20 years to learn about the Marsh report*, that underpins much of the income security system as it currently exists, and originating in the 1940s, for example.  Should it take them that long?)

So, I have two purposes: to share my “finds” with all colleagues, whatever their longevity in the field, and to provide some short cuts and tools to those who haven’t had the decades to develop them themselves.

Hope you enjoy the ride.

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