Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Industrial Policy – It Actually Works!

In Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, History and Politics, Industrial Policy, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Political Parties, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Unions on November 29, 2010 at 9:31 pm

How NOT to do it


When the first generation of historians begin their work on the Obama Administration, one of the more puzzling chapters will be the winter of 2010, when a major sea-change occurred in public policy that neither the administration nor the media were particularly eager to spend that much time trumpeting – namely, the revival of industrial policy after forty years or more beyond the pale of the Conventional Wisdom, as demonstrated by the success of the American automotive industry rescue.

While we wait for that generation of historians to get started being born, we can at least begin to learn some lessons about how and why the Big Three rescue worked when other industry bailouts have been such miserable failures.

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Public Sector Aesthetics – Why They Matter

In Culture, Economic Planning, European Politics, Health Care Reform, Higher Education, Housing, Inequality, Mass Transit, Political Ideology, Public Sector, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Taxes, Urbanism, Welfare State on November 21, 2010 at 12:51 pm


One of the intellectual shortcomings of progressives, and friends of the public sector more broadly, is that we tend to approach public policy from an empirical perspective entirely bounded by questions of money and measurements. While this isn’t a bad thing in itself – certainly “reality-based” public policy is better than the kind of public policy we see coming from the Tea Partiers – it means that we ignore the aesthetic side of the public sector.

This is a mistake, as it opens up a vacuum that conservatives have exploited when they don’t actually have a case on empirical grounds – the evidence for the inherent superiority of the private sector might be weak, but it’s easy to get voters to emotionally identify with the image of endless lines at the DMV.

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Putting It (Back?) On the Agenda: Poverty

In Budget Politics, Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, Inequality, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Welfare State on November 15, 2010 at 6:47 pm


Back in what turned out to be the halcyon days of 2007, policy types were actually beginning to talk about cutting the poverty rate in half. Three years later, we’re looking at one of the largest and fastest increases in poverty in a generation. 44 million Americans – one in seven of us – now live in poverty, an increase of four million people just in the last year.

Even if one were to grant that the lenient treatment shown to the banks on TARP, the bonuses, the cramdown bill, credit card regulation, and other progressive defeats over the last two years were part of the cost of rescuing a postindustrial, neoliberal economic system (and I don’t), there is nonetheless a moral obligation for the Obama Administration to do something for those who have been hit hardest, and who have been least able to protect themselves going forward into the second term.

To the extent that it ever was put on the agenda, poverty must come back on the agenda.

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