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Social Insurance and Dependency on Government

In a recent essay for The American Conservative, Oren Cass criticizes a viewpoint, which he attributes to the Niskanen Center, among others on the center-right, that places a central emphasis on free markets and economic growth even when doing so “necessitate[s] a much larger safety net, widespread government dependence, and the loss of a baseline expectation that people everywhere can become productive contributors to their communities and form stable families capable of self-reliance.”

How We Do the Work Is As Important As Where We Do It

Repatriating supply chains to home shores has become an increasingly fashionable topic in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the rationale is to ensure that adequate redundancy and resiliency are built into our economies, even at the cost of “just in time” inventory accumulation practices (which have prioritized short term profitability at a cost of the kinds of supply shocks we are experiencing today).

On the Astonishing Success of Tucker Carlson

Last week, I joined Steve Deace’s BlazeTV podcast to discuss the astonishing success of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and the forward-looking implications of that success for both conservative media and American conservatism itself.

Social Conservatism and the “Small Government” Straightjacket

“We are conservatives, and conservatives believe in supporting families directly.”

agricultural automation
All Productivity is Good: Even Automation

One of the few times when I have found myself in agreement with Paul Krugman is when he famously wrote, “Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything.” Yet, today, this statement is not only passé, but downright suspect, at least among many U.S. elites. For in a world characterized by neo-Luddite fear of new technologies and outlandish claims that technology will destroy most of our jobs, public and elite opinion has shifted to a view that “productivity is almost nothing, especially if any worker loses their job from it.”

The “Enormous Social Value” of Private-Equity Fees

The Wall Street Journal’s defense of private equity (“Populists Don’t Know Much About Private Equity”) is an impressionist masterpiece of market fundamentalism, relying on the unexamined assumption that fees paid to private-equity partners represent “social value.” One can simply step back and gawk in amazement, but true appreciation requires poring over each brushstroke.

Rethinking Welfare Capitalism

Since the neoliberal era began in the 1970s, many public policy thinkers have assumed that America’s employment-based benefit system of welfare capitalism is doomed to extinction by the growth in freelance or gig workers. To replace employer benefits, the left tends to support welfare statism and the right tends to support welfare individualism, in the form of portable, individualized tax credits or savings accounts.

Is Hamilton a “Bootstraps” Story?

As we tend to do with momentous occasions, I clearly remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the first lines of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. It Read more…

U.S. Capitol Building at Dusk.
Steps in the Right Direction: Two Proposals for Funding U.S. Semiconductor Foundries

There are many reasons to be pessimistic about the future of this country at the moment, and most of them are hard to ignore. But there are also new glimmers of hope appearing in important areas, even if they don’t get much media attention.

Facing the Woke Hyperpower

Just a few years ago, it was possible for nationalist Americans to warn foreign enemies like North Korea that the US was a “hyperpower.” A few decades ago, however, the label was a term of abuse.

The Homeless Society

Analysts and commentators talk about today’s “precariate.” The term plays on the Marxist notion of the proletariat, recasting it to describe gig workers, college grads whose income is swallowed by student loan debt, and wage-earners who can’t stay ahead of heath costs, childcare costs, car repair bills, and credit card debt.

An Industrial Policy by any Another Name…

The opinion pages of both the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal have featured calls for industrial policy in the past week, an encouraging trend toward realism about the necessary role for government in a free-market economy.

Should There be Legal and Ethical Limits to National Developmentalism?

ITIF recently released a report about how “innovation mercantilist” policies were instrumental in enabling China to dominate the global telecom equipment industry, and how that rise came at the expense Read more…

America Cottons on to Industrial Policy Again

Recently, I suggested that the United States would do well to emulate some aspects of China’s economic development model, largely on the grounds that this still constituted the optimal route to reindustrialization. If done correctly, reindustrialization can provide a key means of generating high quality jobs in the U.S. and a corresponding break from today’s prevailing market fundamentalist model characterized by precarious employment prospects, wage stagnation and the loss of many of the attributes long associated with a prosperous and stable middle class.

Should Congress Extend the $600 Federal Unemployment Benefit?

In March as Ohio began to shut down, Emily—a thirtysomething mom who asked that I not use her real name—worried about her family, her neighbors, and especially the elderly. She posted on her town’s Facebook page offering to grocery shop for those unable to go to the store, or to share a meal with anyone who might be hungry, saying that she’d feed them whatever she could out of her own kitchen.

The Fight On The Right: A Pre-Trump Or Post-Trump Future?

American Compass’s Oren Cass describes the parameters of the fight on the right and makes the case for a Post-Trump conservatism.

Contain China if Necessary, but Emulate Features of its Industrial Policy to Ensure Long Term Economic Prosperity

Robert Atkinson of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has just written a very compelling analysis of China’s national industrial policy, especially in relation to the exponential growth of its telecommunications industry. Some of the key findings of the paper, “How China’s Mercantilist Policies Have Undermined Global Innovation in the Telecom Equipment Industry” are as follows:

America Must Fight For Global Industry Leadership Again

American Compass’s Wells King outlines the proposals from the “Moving the Chains” reshoring policy symposium.

Does Aggressive Policing Create its Own Cycle of Dependence?

I was jolted by the familiar echo, reading Chris Arnade’s “Cops and Teachers,” of an argument I’ve made a thousand times. It was an obviously conservative point, turned suddenly into a refutation of a popular conservative stance.

Cops and Teachers

In the early 90s, as the Soviet Union crumbled, a trickle of Eastern European students came to the US. One of my roles at Johns Hopkins was to greet them at the airport and try to help their transition.

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