Welcome to The Government We Deserve
Welcome to new and many old readers to my updated, “Government We Deserve” column, now posted on Substack.
Most of my research centers on figuring out the best way to advance public policy and work better together as a society. I continue to reject the tribal (and often party-centric) approach to policy issues, the focus on personality rather than ideas as a way to form policy judgments, and scribblings that imply that choices don’t matter or that true dilemmas over such issues as work vs welfare or immigration are amenable to simple solutions. Indeed, much of my current work focuses on how both political parties’ spending, tax and debt or monetary policies have contributed to wealth inequality, the decline in upward mobility for too many in society, and political discord. At the same time, I do not discount the richness of our society, the progress we have made on so many fronts, and the great possibilities within our reach.
I appeal to the need for all of us to work together toward solutions, even when that means we, not just someone else, must accept fewer benefits, pay more taxes, and consider how our own charitable giving might make a difference. Most importantly, I respect you as a reader and provide information and data in ways that try to inform your own views whether or not you agree with me.
A quick comment on the recent fights over the debt limit. I spent approximately 15 years in the Treasury Department many years ago, and even then much of staff work was devoted to fighting over new and artificially created political problems rather than the real issues affecting the citizens we were supposed to be serving. But we also managed to put out studies and proposals that attempted to tackle real problems. This debt limit fight has been a great example of elected officials creating an unnecessary problem, solving part of it, and then declaring victory for their efforts. In the meantime, tens of thousands of the government workers you pay with your taxes have devoted endless hours to figuring out how to contain the potential financial disaster that lurked behind any default on the nation’s debt. The costs of these efforts don’t disappear when there is no debt default. They still play out in what so many officials and staffs in Congress and Executive Branch did NOT do, the problems they ignored, the information they never gathered, the solutions they never found.
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A liberal is someone who wants to take from a second person to give to a third person. A conservative is the third person. — Author