The Poverty of Cabinet Appointments

I think we should be doing more to ameliorate poverty in America, but I don’t really think appointing a cabinet-level poverty-fighting guy would accomplish much to that end. The country badly needs sensible energy policies, but merely having a Department of Energy doesn’t accomplish that, any more than the Department of Transportation’s existence necessitates sound transportation policy. To fight poverty effectively, you need effective poverty-fighting policies — the precise details of the org chart don’t really matter, it’s not the kind of thing where the ins-and-outs of the chain of command are going to have a huge impact. If a new cabinet member is the symbolic manifestation of a substantive policy shift, then great. But if it’s a symbolic substitute for really changing anything, then who needs it. Cabinet status isn’t a magic powder that solves problems on its own.