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!