What Are We Doing Here?
Let me try to bring four things together…
The coming of the internet has created at least the potential for a much better public-sphere conversation on economic policy than we had a generation ago. Go back to William Greider’s The Education of David Stockman, and reflect that the ignorance about budgetary issues in which they maneuver and about which they lament would not be possible in the internet age of today.
We, as of yet, do not have such a public-sphere conversation. At best, the conversation resembles a soccer game of seven-year-olds–twenty people in a huddle kicking the ball in random directions, with few people playing their positions and focusing on what is truly important.
Over the past generation our politics and policy making has arguably degenerated. It is now clearly inadequate. We no longer (if we ever did) have a bipartisan technocratic center with serious votes committed to economic growth, equal opportunity, and an efficient well-functioning government that can tack left or right as necessary to assemble legislative coalitions to support good governance.
Where the conversation has been guided, it has been directed in directions that I, at least, think are unhelpful. We are moving forward into a world in which a longer-living population and technological advances create opportunities to promote the general welfare via larger expenditures on pensions and health care. But Peter Peterson and company have driven the budgetary conversation to focus on entitlement cuts rather than entitlement right-sizing, right-funding, and right-managing. Similarly, the John M. Olin Foundation–with really very little money–has driven the legal conversation to focus on restoring a classical-liberal order that, in my view at least, never really existed in the first place and that could not have functioned past 1870 if it had.
Taking these things together, it seems to me that it would be a good idea if I signed on to this Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and tried to drive the conversation to what is important.
My promise to you: If you share our interest in public policy that leads to growth-with-equity—and would like to see a 21st century that is an American Century in a these-are-people-to-emulate rather than we-fear-their-drones-and-their-blackmail sense—then:
- We are going to be disciplined: we will not publish so much under this heading that you either drown or fob us off to an aggregator.
- Everything we publish will be important for you to read if you are interested in equitable growth (and you really should be).
- We won’t try to get you to read what we write when somebody else has written it better—we will link instead.
- We will try to make sure that we always do our homework.
- We will try to bring to your attention people who think differently than we do and who have done their homework, are not engaged in intellectual three-card-monte, and are being smart.
Let us try to focus our conversation on what is truly important, for all of our sakes.