Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What the American (and Australian) Right must accept to regain credibility

I reckon there are perhaps three key things that a re-aligned American (and Australia) Right must accept to be credible again, and they are all related:

a.  that climate change is real, and a very serious long term economic and humanitarian issue that needs addressing by all governments, but especially by the US as a leading industrial and research nation. Accepting science is not being a socialist - the very nature of the problem means a globalist approach is necessary;

b.  that the idea that government must be minimal government (except when it comes to Defence - where the Right always wants more) has had its day:  driven not only by the need for clear government policy and intervention regarding climate change, but also by credible economic research, and simple common sense comparisons internationally, that government has a key and important role in a wide variety of areas important for maintaining a society's overall well being*;

c.  that provision of adequate government services and infrastructure requires realistic levels of government income, and globally, the world has been "gamed" by a race to the bottom by the richest corporations and individuals who now pay tax at levels that would have been thought laughable last century.  The Right must abandon the obsession with insisting that the only way to advance a nation's economy is to cut taxes. 

* I wonder how much blame can be borne by Rand and/or Milton Friedman for the persistence of  this Republican view?  On the latter, as Paul Krugman wrote in 2007, he was a good and important economist, when it came to his specialised field, but on matters of the size of government and regulation, it was pretty much just ideology:
In the decades ahead, this single-mindedness would become Friedman’s trademark. Again and again, he called for market solutions to problems—education, health care, the illegal drug trade—that almost everyone else thought required extensive government intervention. Some of his ideas have received widespread acceptance, like replacing rigid rules on pollution with a system of pollution permits that companies are free to buy and sell. Some, like school vouchers, are broadly supported by the conservative movement but haven’t gotten far politically. And some of his proposals, like eliminating licensing procedures for doctors and abolishing the Food and Drug Administration, are considered outlandish even by most conservatives.
The lesson the Right needs to learn:  "single mindedness" has had its day.  Pragmatism, common sense and recognition of complexity should all trump ideology.

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