July 18, 2008

Open Thread: The Future of America and the Future of Conservatism in America

Carroll Andrew Morse

New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks believes that the government needs "to act in gigantic ways over the next few years"...

We’re entering an era of epic legislation. There are at least five large problems that will compel the federal government to act in gigantic ways over the next few years.

First, there is the erosion of the social contract. Private sector firms are less likely to provide health benefits, producing a desperate need for health care reform.

Second, there is the energy shortage. Rising Asian demand strains worldwide supply, threatening industry and consumers, and producing calls for a bold energy initiative.

Third, there is the stagnation in human capital. During the 20th century, Americans were better educated than the citizens of any other power. Since 1970, that lead has been forfeited, producing inequality and wage stagnation. To compete, the U.S. will require a series of human capital initiatives.

Fourth, there’s financial market reform. In an intricately connected world, even Republican administrations cannot allow big institutions to fail. If government is going to guarantee against failure, then it is inevitably going to get more involved in regulating how businesses are run.

Fifth, there’s infrastructure reform. The U.S. transportation system is in shambles and will require major new projects.

Has Brooks set the right priorities? Has he missed anything or overstated anything? And how will conservatism fit into the future domestic policy agenda, Brooksian or otherwise?

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1) I don't agree that there needs to be a "social contract". Once upon a time employers extended benefits to attract workers. Now they have become entitlements. Maybe by providing tax incentives more employers could offer health insurance. Given that, open the market to more competition and less regulation. Requiring health insurance companies to cover ever little procedure no matter how elective is a part of the reason for the increased costs. Let's also allow businesses such as CVS and Walmart to put low cost clinics in their stores.

2) Drill & Dig. Let's use the coal, gas, and oil that is available to the US. The government inaction and obstruction of this is bordering on criminal. Nuclear power...build as many as we can. There is plenty of space in the US especially in "fly-over" country to build dozens of plants. If France can get almost 80% of their electricity from this, so can we. Also, the technology is very safe and we can reuse or bury the waste in Nevada. Also we need to stop putting of food into our gas tanks,

3) Reform the education. Experiment with more non-profit private schools, for-profit private schools, privately run public schools, etc. End the grip that the socialist unions have over the public schools. I am not saying eliminate them, but more power needs to be given to administrators and teachers as individuals. Also, put more emphasis on basic skills and eliminate as much of the "fluff" as possible.

4) I don't really have an answer here, but more government regulation will only complicate operations and increase costs.

5) Infrastructure expenditures except for new construction should be regular operating expenses and not capital (bonds) projects. This should be given a priority over most social programs (except those that provide the basic social safety net) Telecommunications and Internet infrastructure needs to be included in this category.

The "war on terror" is not likely to end for decades short of a massive global war. There needs to be an emphasis on security for the US homeland and interests abroad.

We also need to make sure that our trade agreements are fair to both parties. Free markets really only exist when both parties play by the same rules.

Posted by: tcc3 at July 18, 2008 4:06 PM

Step 1. Proclaim that "Trickle Down Economics" doesn't work, never worked, and was a hair-brained idea from the start.

Step 2. Find everyone still unwilling to admit Step 1. and beat them to death on the Mall in Washington D.C..

Posted by: Greg at July 18, 2008 5:13 PM

Step 1. Proclaim that "Trickle Down Economics" doesn't work, never worked, and was a hair-brained idea from the start.

Step 2. Find everyone still unwilling to admit Step 1. and beat them to death on the Mall in Washington D.C..

Posted by: Greg at July 18, 2008 5:14 PM

Re:Death threats beyond anything propogated by Bobby O.
Can we have this POS Greg banned immediately?

Posted by: Mike at July 18, 2008 6:57 PM

Reagan's 1st Inaugural Address:
" In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem ".

Posted by: SeanO at July 18, 2008 8:25 PM

Hey Mike.

Bite me. I now make 12,000 LESS than I did in 2000. While the top end of the food chain has got loopholes pretty much saving them from having to pay taxes at all.

I call shenanigans.

Posted by: Greg at July 18, 2008 8:36 PM

SeanO is right on the money. I am concerned about David Brooks' drift to the Left. He's been nothing less than totally enamored of Obama, and perhaps for reasons of appreciation of good grammar; but the blog at Weekly Standard has an interesting point today: Obama's record in the US Senate is to the Left of the only Socialist running for President, and Obama attended Socialist conventions while in college. People do not really know this candidate. He will thrust us into an age of government running everything.

And when conservatives like Brooks say these things, we can find ourselves all drifting Leftward. Don't get me wrong. I like Brooks. He spoke a couple of years ago at Wake Forest Commencement, and he was terrific. My daughter has anice picture with him, but when you see him PBS with Mark Shields, sometimes he is on the same side as Shields. Yuk!

Posted by: Chuck at July 19, 2008 10:51 AM
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