Strengthening the institutions that allow markets to deliver on their promise
Supporting the indispensable institution
The family is the indispensable institution, the only one capable of producing the next generation and preparing it for the burdens of productive citizenship. Its ongoing collapse poses the greatest threat to American liberty and prosperity. Nearly half of parenting-age Americans say they have fewer children than they would like, most often because they cannot afford to have more. The vast majority agree that government should do more to support families—almost always because “families are falling behind and need help” or “more assistance to families would improve the lives of children.” How conservatives respond to this challenge will determine what we leave the next generation to defend, and whether we will have equipped them to defend it.
Equipping Americans to build decent lives in their communities
Public education is one of America’s great achievements and has been vital to the nation’s success as a democracy, its rise as the world’s dominant economy, and the flourishing of its citizens. Unfortunately, policymakers have forgotten what public education is for, pursuing decades of reform that sought to increase test scores and college attendance but served mainly to strip-mine academic talent from local communities while poorly serving the vast majority of young people. Schools cannot prepare everyone for college, nor should they. But they can prepare everyone for life. They can provide character formation, facilitate important research, instill common values, and equip students to make productive contributions to their communities. If we made those our goals, we might begin to make progress.
Guaranteeing workers a seat at the table
The American labor movement’s slow descent into obsolescence has deprived American workers of a vital institution. A well-functioning system of organized labor affords solidarity, mutual aid, bargaining power, and workplace representation, all of which can benefit workers, their families and communities, and the nation—both economically and socially. Especially for conservatives, who cherish the role of mediating institutions, prefer private ordering to government dictates, and believe prosperity must be earned rather than redistributed, reforming and reinvigorating the laws that govern organizing and collective bargaining should be an obvious priority.