• Liberty-Focused Evaluator

Some thoughts on "Transforming Evaluation for Times of Global Transformation"

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

An article titled "American Journal of Evaluation Section on International Developments in Evaluation: Transforming Evaluation for Times of Global Transformation" (Zenda Ofir & Deborah Rugg, 2021) was recently published in the American Journal of Evaluation. This article argues that it is necessary for the field of evaluation to quickly shift its focus to "reimagine and reinvent our societies and their relationship with the natural ecosystems on which everything depends" and that "calls for the transformation of systems on which humanity depends have been growing rapidly and with increasing urgency" (p. 47). The article goes on to point out that the many challenges currently facing humanity include "runaway capitalism, rapid population growth, overconsumption, and the notion of growth at all costs" (p. 47). The implication of this article and others like it is that human beings need to further forfeit their individual liberty to the power of the State for the good of humanity. They will be free to work at the jobs they want, purchase and sell what they want, and associate with whomever they choose so long as it is approved by the government.

A liberty-focused evaluator believes that individual liberty and private property rights are the ultimate "common good." This means the common good is achieved by eliminating or significantly reducing the role of government in regulating voluntary economic transactions between individuals. It also means a significant reduction or elimination of taxes (depending on what kind of libertarian you are). While many evaluators today would argue that "runaway capitalism" is the source of many societal ills, the libertarian evaluator would argue that government intrusions into the free-market cause most of the injustices lamented by evaluators today.

What is missing today in discussions about the future of evaluation is whether there should be a limit on government expansion. No evaluation theorist I am aware of seems worried about the expanded role of government to interfere in every aspect of our lives so long as leaders are democratically elected. For the libertarian evaluator, even a democratically elected government is tyrannical so long as the majority gets to violate the individual liberties of the minority.

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