Steve Cohen and I have a new book coming out from Harvard Business Review Press on March 1, 2016. A very short book. Easy and quick to read. Easy and quick to read because it tries to make one big and very important point, and avoid being distracted from it:
America’s debate about economic policy goes way wrong whenever it is ruled by ideology.
It doesn’t matter much which ideology—a rigid and ideologized Hamiltonianism would have been (almost) as bad as rigid-Jeffersonianism, an excessive attachment to outmoded industries or to ways of delivering social-insurance that were merely emergency expedients when adopted in the 1930s would be (almost) as bad as the market-worshipping sects of neoliberalism.
Thus we say:
America’s debate about economic policy goes largely right whenever it is ruled by pragmatism.
Successes come whenever the question asked and answered is: What concrete steps can we take, here and now, to make America more prosperous and to share the fruits of growth equitably? Failures come whenever the question asked and answered is: Do these policy proposals conform to the ideas of Adam Smith or Edmund Burke or William Beveridge or even John Maynard Keynes?—let alone those of the Karl Marxes, the Friedrich von Hayeks, and the Ayn Rands.
So I now have a problem. HBR Press would be extremely annoyed if I were to simply dump the book (or large parts of the book) online. But I really do want to do so. I am excited about the big idea. And I want this big idea to get out into the world undistorted.
So how should Steve and I tease this little book of ours?