My Program for Renewal


A longer version of this post appears on Students for a Free Economy


Wandering Wolverine had a pretty good post adding to the discussion of where the Freedom Movement goes from here. He urges getting realistic about welfare, being sincere about valid environmental concerns, and getting serious about educaton reform. Fortunately you have me ;-) to flesh out that program with a distillation of some big ideas from some of our deep thinkers, including one more powerful plank to those items.


On welfare, check out Charles Murray’s proposal to supercharge the charitable institutions of civil society,  “A Plan to Replace the Welfare State: The government should give every American $10,000–and nothing more”:


“The chief defect of the welfare state . . . is not that it is ineffectual in making good on its promises (though it is), nor even that it often exacerbates the very problems it is supposed to solve (though it does). The welfare state is pernicious ultimately because it drains too much of the life from life. The solution is to put responsibility for our lives back in our hands–ours as individuals, ours as families, and ours as communities.”


Murray’s proposal also has a universal health care voucher that “socializes” the cost of basic health care but leaves it’s provision in private hands, contingent on a suite of free-market reforms that restore the proper incentives for health care consumers to economize and providers to innovate and become more efficient. Check that mega-issue off the list too.


On the environment, check out “McHugh Favors $10 Gas Tax? Eek!”:


“If you want to quickly reduce the use of fossil fuels, there is one and only one honest, transparent, effective and non-economically destructive way to do it: Gradually phase-in over many years a $5 or $10 per gallon carbon tax on all fossil fuels – like 50-cents per gallon increase per year – but with one minor condition: It must be revenue neutral, with corresponding supply-side tax cuts. That makes the proposal not economically destructive; it would raise the disincentive on socially and economically non-useful consumption of fossil fuels, and reduce the disincentive on the socially useful activities of working, studying, saving, investing, and taking risks. It’s classic Adam Smith stuff.”


On education Wolverine cites vouchers and school choice, and I will add this, also from Charles Murray: “For Most People, College Is a Waste of Time.”


“Outside a handful of majors — engineering and some of the sciences — a bachelor’s degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance. The solution is not better degrees, but no degrees. Young people . . . need a certification, not a degree.”


I believe Richard Vedder has noted that a certification from Microsoft is more valuable than a BA. I’ve said before that the current U’s can’t be reformed, they must be made irrelevant. This is how to do it.


Finally, on the broader issue of political reform and restoring our limited government democracy, check out my “Us vs. Them: The People and the Political Class.”:


“The fundamental problem facing our nation is that true representative government has been supplanted by an inbred, self-serving, self-perpetuating political/government class that does not represent the people. As a result, the government has escaped the control of the people. . . Those who would restore representative government must raise the public’s consciousness regarding this fundamental but little understood divide: The people vs. the political/government class.”


There you have a lively program of renewal that strikes at the root of core problems, gets beyond tired old debates and culture wars, and has the capacity to inspire and capture the public’s imagination. Even if they don’t buy it all people will apprectiate the creative and hopeful vision embodied in these proposals.


PS. These ideas are not original to me. I cited Murray for two, the others carbon tax and political class are my distillations of the thoughts of, as I said, some of our movement’s deep thinkers (on the latter one who prefers a low profile).


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