On Being Crazy in California or Leaping into the 19th Century While Kicking, Screaming, and Frothing at the Mouth: A Review of The Skill Factor in Politics: Repealing the Mental Commitment Laws in California.

by Garry D. Brewer

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A book review for the American Political Science Review. An excellent work deserving of widespread attention and serious reflection, The Skill Factor in Politics captures in careful detail the attributes of political expertise needed to see a new policy through the legislative process--in this case, changing California laws concerning commitment of mental cases. Information as resource is stressed. The book confronts a little-understood aspect of the policy process, termination of outmoded or dysfunctional policies, programs, and institutions, and provides us with the raw materials needed to ask the right questions in other cases. Its chief weakness is that the cases examined are extraordinary success stories--in most settings, one would expect the entrepreneurs to make many more mistakes, to be less dedicated, and to have less luck.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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