A nation of 300 million souls -- richest and most powerful in the world, for all its messes and perturbations -- needs a turning radius wide as the future. But you know what -- realization precedes intellectual assent, which precedes needed action. There's much to be hopeful about as the nation goes in for its electoral physical.
Valuable realizations are growing upon us. I mention two that might lead to assent and, eventually, action.
First, you gotta have rich people, like it or not -- a point evidenced by growing support for renewing all, not just some, of the Bush tax cuts. "I don't think this is the time," says the Connecticut Democrat Joe Lieberman, "to raise anyone's taxes, including those who are wealthiest." So saying, Lieberman evidences understanding of two economic truths: 1) the rich pay most of our taxes to begin with, and 2) tax hikes lead the intended victims to work or invest so as to decrease their tax liability, even if their ensuing decisions reduce economic productivity.
Democratic arguments for cutting the rich out of the tax-cut extension, sure to pass this year, rests upon the premise that class warfare works politically. It does -- until the consequences start to show through the seams. A policy of redistributing other people's money doesn't wipe out the rich; it does build into the tax system a bias against wealth accumulation.
Wealth, however, plus the simple desire for it, puts people to work. The price of an expanding middle class is tolerance of other people's success and even greed. Speaking of greed, isn't that just part of Original Sin? -- the good old human condition, dating back to Eden? What do we want government to do, after all -- overhaul the human condition from top to bottom?
A second realization that grows upon us is that centralized "We'll Do Everything in the World for You (If You'll Keep Voting for Us)" doesn't get the job done. Wasn't that economic stimulus bill a great success? Eight hundred billion, and don't we feel better? We don't? Maybe we're wondering whether cutting taxes and regulations for the private sector isn't the quickest way to get laggard economies off their backs and on their legs again.
Another notable ingredient of centralized government is control of schools, control of curriculum and standards: a general shutdown, so far as government and teacher unions can manage it, of private decisions in educational matters.