Tuesday, October 29, 2013

America Needs Comprehensive

1.  Immigration Reform
2.  Tax Reform
3.  Entitlements Reform
4.  Energy and Environmental Reform
5.  Education Reform
6.  Welfare Reform
7.  Financial Reform
8.  Housing and Urban Reform
9.  International Trade Reform
10.  Regulatory Reform
11.  Agricultural Subsidy Reform
12.  Governance Reform
13.  Campaign finance Reform
14.  Congressional Ethics Reform
15.  Postal Reform
16.  And others (fill in as desired)

America has several thousand stand-alone think tanks and several thousand university centers and institutes that research these issues and recommend policies to improve outcomes.  Progress has been made in a few areas, but, on net, most of these problem areas have grown worse despite trillions of dollars and millions of research hours spent seeking improvement.

In some cases, progress has been rolled back (e.g., President George H. W. Bush signed legislation in 1991 that undid President Reagan’s 1986 Tax Reform.)  President Clinton signed comprehensive welfare legislation, but more people receive transfer payments than ever before.  And so.

Perhaps money and research have prevented problems from becoming worse, but this counterfactual cannot be tested.  Perhaps think tanks work at cross-purposes with each other.  Perhaps sound policy ideas are no match for vested interests and beneficiaries of government programs, however costly and unsuccessful.

Not a pretty picture.

What is needed is something new, not more of the same.  Perhaps digital disruption will find its way into politics and overturn or replace current modes of behavior.  Otherwise, it will continue to be “same old, same old.”  More money and time spent spinning wheels!

1 comment :

Thomas Spitters said...

Dr. Rabushka:

During my training I attended no small number of class sessions in which our instructors drilled into us that our world is fraught with problems that threaten our livelihoods and tear at the fabric of society. As a result of this and other things, people like me are tremendously aware of social problems and their effect upon business and economic climes. Today there do appear to be at least two issues determinative of the topics you present here and related attempts to remedy them and their deleterious effects: a. The overall aging of that sector of the population that has first - hand experience with actual political and open conflict and confrontation and how these things were resolved to the betterment of our society (these persons, most of them are now beyond their working years and as a result the current leadership is at a loss); and b. The amount of budgetary "pork" in the federal budget and other state and local coffers that allows for the misguided and unnecessary spending of federal revenue dollars on things people do not really need.

People like me know that aging is a serious problem in many major countries today because the public trust and the brain trusts of those regimes is in jeopardy in some important ways without the emergence of more effective leadership. The "pork" in state budgets everywhere reflects the increasing insular trends of federal politics, not just in this country, but everywhere and threatens the integrity of the social net and therefore by inference the fabric of society itself. An oversimplification that might thus nonetheless apply here is the twin deficits and again unnecessary spending and spending allocations by the federal government in the U.S. invite over the long - term the type of hooliganism and inattention to proper finances, the rule of law and necessary adherence to proper governance that could eventually threaten the autonomy of Americans individually and then of the American political system and society. There is a myriad of other issues, including things like education and training for young people, the place of the national economy in the world, energy policy and so forth, that relate to your topic here which is great food for thought.