Billions for prohibition, millions of arrests–but not a penny to find out whether it does any good. According to a March 29 report from a committee of the National Research Council chaired by Northwestern University economist Charles Manski, “Neither the necessary data systems nor the research infrastructure to gauge the usefulness of drug-control enforcement policies currently exists….It is unconscionable for this country to continue to carry out a public policy of this magnitude and cost without any way of knowing whether, and to what extent, it is having the desired result.” U.S. drug policy generally aims at reducing consumption by choking off supply and driving up the price, but there’s no good information on how much drugs cost or the amount consumed. Zero-tolerance projects haven’t been evaluated at all, and programs like D.A.R.E. continue to be funded even though they are known to accomplish little.

“I think nostalgia is an aspect of historic preservation that we might want to do without,” argues Theodore Hild in “Historic Illinois” (February). “Creating a past that never existed makes it impossible to judge the present and to make good decisions for the future.”

News bulletin: hoofed animals distinguish between state and federal jurisdiction. According to a story by Vicki Urbanik in the Chesterton, Indiana, Tribune (March 27), the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has “found no significant difference” between areas where deer can eat vegetation and areas where they can’t, because the plants are fenced. “That finding is in stark contrast to the situation at the adjacent Indiana Dunes State Park [which is almost completely surrounded by the National Lakeshore], where officials have said that deer have devastated large tracts of plants.”

A high standard. “Springfield is an easy place to like,” writes Pete Sherman in the downstate capital city’s alternative weekly Illinois Times (March 22-28). “But is Springfield an easy place to love? Do people leave Springfield longing to return? Are students, as Vachel Lindsay dreamed, willing to starve in city parks rather than leave town for home?”

The case for car control. Gregg Easterbrook writes in the New Republic (March 26), “In 1999, the year of the Columbine massacre, 28 students nationwide were killed in schools, while 840 kids under age 20 were killed when struck by cars as they walked, often to school. But, although school shootings spark a national outcry and huge government spending, street-crossing deaths draw no notice and no action. Pedestrian deaths are deemed, well, pedestrian.”

“Children who come from extremely advantaged circumstances will very often thrive in all sorts of schools,” Diane Ravitch, author of the new book Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms, tells the Heartland Institute’s School Reform News (April). “Children who are disadvantaged are not as much self-starters. They don’t have the advantage of having educated, literate parents, and so the schools have to give them more…. What my book is about is a series of almost professional scandals, if you will, in which people ran lemming-like toward some panacea, throwing away effective instructional methods, throwing away good curricula, and tracking children into dead-end curricula because it was the thing to do.”

What if God had spent the seventh day on quality control? “Had our bodies been crafted for extended operation, we would have fewer flaws capable of making us miserable in our later days,” write biostatistician S. Jay Olshansky and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the March issue of Scientific American. Among other things, the authors cite “the weak link between the optic nerve and retina, which is prone to detaching after decades of use, fragile hair cells in our ears leading to hearing loss, and a common passageway for food and air, raising the risk of inhaling food or drink as muscle tone decreases with age.”