Archive for the ‘Political Ideology’ Category

De-commodifying Housing

In Economic Planning, Economics, Financial Crisis, History and Politics, Housing, Liberalism, New Deal, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy on August 18, 2011 at 12:31 am

Introduction:

If the Great Recession has one common thread that links the U.S, much of the E.U (Ireland, Spain, the U.K), and the rest of the world, it’s our common mistake of treating housing as a speculative commodity whose purpose is to create profits for investors, rather than structures that serve a basic human need for shelter and sanctuary. Even those nations which avoided a housing bubble themselves (like France or Germany) got themselves involved through their banking industries, who lent and speculated into the housing bubbles.

If we want to get out of our current economic stagnation and avoid future housing bubbles, the logical place to start is to de-commodify housing.

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Psychology of Public Policy: Planning Vs. Provision

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, History and Politics, Industrial Policy, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy on July 25, 2011 at 11:20 am

Introduction:

All political movements at their core face an internal tension between conflicting tenets of their ideology. 19th century liberalism was split between its commitment to universal suffrage and the fear that the unwashed majority might use their votes to infringe on the property rights of the propertied. Even the Republican party, famous in recent years for iron discipline, is divided between cultural conservatives who would like to abolish gay people, and business conservatives who are happy to sell to gay people.

Within the broad left in the U.S, our divided dreams have often found us torn between our hope that economic planning might restore some democratic sovereignty over the anarchy of the market, and our belief that public provision of social goods was necessary for economic security.

However, I think this was a false choice, and that the progressive movement can learn much if it avoids such a division in the future.

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Education Reform – the Fix is In

In Democratic Governance, Education Reform, European Politics, Higher Education, Inequality, Liberalism, Political Ideology, Political Parties, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Unions, Youth Policy on July 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Introduction:

In any other area of public policy where we see rich hedge-funders providing government agencies with private funds with strings attached, demanding control over choice of administrators and direction of public policy (such as was the case with various foundations and the D.C schools), and financing the opponents of elected officials who disagree with them (such as was the case with the 2010 city council race in New York City), we’d call it corruption by a special interest group.

Yet with education reform, prominent liberals treat it as acceptable and instead turn the traditional liberal analysis of “special interests” on teachers unions instead.

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Government in the Long Run: Infrastructure

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, High-Speed Rail, Industrial Policy, Mass Transit, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Public Works, Social Democracy on May 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Introduction:

If there is a common malaise of our time, it’s short-term thinking in an era when long-term problems loom ever larger. Whether it’s in health care, where Congress has decide that the only way for it to deal with the need to restrain doctors and hospital costs is to outsource it to an independent agency, or in climate change, where the Senate is flatly unwilling to pass even a moderate cap-and-trade bill (even though cap-and-trade was the free marketer’s solution to climate change), or in dealing with the long-term budget deficit, where the right wing won’t even countenance eliminating loopholes and the Democratic Party won’t tax enough to end the deficit or spend enough to create a strong recovery. At the same time, the electorate has not even been approached in a way that might lead them to consider long-term consequences of their votes.

Today, I’m going to focus on one particular issue that has become emblematic of our long-term problems – our nation’s infrastructure.

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Psychology of Public Policy – IHSS as a Model for a New Welfare State

In Budget Politics, California, Child Care, Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, History and Politics, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Welfare State, Youth Policy on April 27, 2011 at 4:30 am

Introduction:

(For previous parts in this series, see here)

One tricky dilemma that progressives have had to face about the welfare state has been the contradiction between our desire to provide universal protection against the great social ills (poverty, disease, lack of education, poor housing, and unemployment), which tends to be broadly supported by society, and society’s resistance to violations of the social norm of reciprocity. The easiest attack on welfare has always been to assert that other people are getting something for nothing and thus divide society between the payer and payee.

While progressives ran headlong into the brick wall of social resistance in the welfare politics of the 1970s, it’s not foreordained that all forms of social welfare have to meet the same fate. It is possible to be both right and smart – and learn to tack into the wind of public opinion.

Looking at the IHSS model gives us one possible solution for how to do just that.

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Hunting the Elephant in the Room: Inequality (Part III – Transfers and Pre-Tax)

In Budget Politics, Economic Planning, Economics, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Political Parties, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes, Welfare State on April 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Introduction:

In part 1, I discussed the emerging intellectual critical mass on inequality; in part 2, I discussed how our tax system can be made into a great engine of egalitarianism. Today I want to talk about the remaining major areas of public policy that can act against inequality – namely our post-tax transfer system and our pre-tax regulatory state.

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Hunting the Elephant in the Room: Inequality (Part II – Taxes)

In Budget Politics, Economic Planning, Economics, Financial Crisis, Inequality, Liberalism, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes on April 8, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Introduction:

In part 1 of “Hunting the Elephant in the Room,” I discussed the emerging critical mass in inequality studies and how that might be harnessed to the public’s unheralded egalitarian values. However, coming to the realization that “policy can reduce inequality” is not the same thing as knowing what kind of policy to push for.

The first thing to understand is that there are many different ways for reducing inequality. Broadly speaking, policy approaches to inequality can be categorized by when in the economic process they take place – pre-tax interventions into the socio-economic order, the tax system, and then post-tax transfers.

Today, I’ll discuss how our tax system can be turned into an engine for equality.

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Hunting the Elephant in the Room: Inequality (Part I)

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Taxes, Welfare State on April 7, 2011 at 1:00 am

Introduction:

Sometimes in the history of public policy, an intellectual critical mass on how to deal with a problem is achieved in advance of the political system’s readiness to incorporate this new knowledge. One of the best examples of this is the “rediscovery” of poverty in the U.S during the late 1950s by writers like Michael Harrington, Oscar Lewis, Gabriel Kolko, and others. All of these writers laid the groundwork for the War on Poverty several years before Lyndon Johnson would assemble the necessary Democratic majority to make it happen.

We can see something of a similar moment today in regards with inequality. Scholars are increasingly turning their attention to the issue and returning with novel insights, the issue of inequality is becoming more pressing in the popular press despite the conventional wisdom-makers’ resistance to talking about it, and we are beginning to see the outlines of an intellectual critical mass that could serve as the basis for a policy agenda.

In part 1 of “Hunting the Elephant in the Room,” I’ll talk about what what the current trend in inequality studies can teach us, and whether there’s an opening in public opinion for this new approach. In part 2, I’ll discuss how this knowledge can be applied to our taxation system, and in part 3, how to extend anti-inequality thinking into the murky area of “pre-tax inequality;” i.e, the world we live in.

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Psychology of Public Policy: Learning from the Stimulus

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Financial Crisis, Full Employment, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Public Policy, Public Sector, Social Democracy, Taxes, Welfare State on March 9, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Introduction:

One of the great ironies of the Obama administration so for is that one of its greatest accomplishments, the stimulus bill, is widely viewed with apathy by the public (44% believe it had no impact, while only 9% more believe it made things better than made it worse, according to the New York Times) but actually was a success; economists agree that the stimulus bill created or saved 3-4 million jobs and added about 2.75% to GDP growth per year.

Understanding the divergence between economic reality and public perception is key to developing an economic policy for the future that both works on the ground and can maintain a majority coalition behind it in the polling place.

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In Honor of the Workers of Wisconsin: Classic TRP – In Defense of Public Sector Unionism III

In Budget Politics, California, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Education Reform, Full Employment, Liberalism, Living Wage, New Deal, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes, Unions, Welfare State, Wisconsin on February 25, 2011 at 11:21 am

Introduction:

The last installment in The Realignment Program’s re-posting of its series on public employee unions is here, and we turn from defending the idea of public employee unions to thinking towards a more expansive, hopeful vision of how progressives can promote public sector unionism.

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