In Washington, It's Always 1945

Another good American Enterprise Institute review, courtesy of Maggie's Farm (which by the way is also the source of my last two posts). Nick interviews Jim Manzi about his book "Uncontrolled: The Surprising Payoff of Trial and Error for Business, Politics, and Society," in which he laments public policy that has not been subjected to controlled experiments.  Manzi argues that our political leaders can't shake the mindset they acquired after World War II, when the U.S. had half the world's GDP:
Our almost casual disregard for the erosion of the foundations of our political economy — endless talk but little successful action on internationally uncompetitive K-12 educational results; a widely touted university system that produces more visual and performing arts graduates than math, biology, or engineering graduates; an immigration policy that all but ignores the need to upgrade our human capital; underinvestment in certain kinds of infrastructure, science, and technology; the relentlessly rising tide of social dysfunction among the majority of the American population that does not graduate from college; somehow convincing ourselves that we are uniquely responsible for maintaining global order, when we represent only about 25 percent of global economic output; a continuous trade deficit for more than 30 years; federal government debt of 70 percent of GDP, without any real prospect of achieving fiscal balance, never mind running the budget surpluses that would be required to pay it down, and so on — is shocking and profligate. . . .  The United States can thrive in this new world, but is not destined to do so.
Manzi doesn't oppose reform; he merely advocates federalism:
My argument is not that we should avoid reforms. To the contrary, it is that we should attempt many more potential reforms by trying them out on a small scale to see how they really work.

1 comment:

Grim said...

I love that suggestion. It fits my own sense of the right way to proceed.