Liberals, because they?re owned and operated by the teachers unions, insist we can fix education by spending more money. Of course, we?ve been trying this for decades and it hasn?t worked. Professor Eric Hanushek of the University of Rochester looked at some 400 studies of student achievement and found that when family inputs are accounted for, there?s no consistent relationship between student performance and school resources. More spending isn?t an idea -- it?s the symptom of the lack of liberal ideas.
How about Social Security? The right favors personal retirement accounts. Conservatives want to allow younger workers to divert a portion of their payroll taxes into personal accounts they would own and control. It?s a way of using the free market to solve a looming long-term problem, while also expanding the American ownership society.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says such a plan ?isn?t really Social Security reform. It?s more like Social Security roulette.? Liberals want to fix Social Security, he insists, but not by allowing personal accounts or by cutting benefits.
Liberal strategist Harold Ickes admits the problems with that approach. ?If the Democratic position is we can?t have private accounts but also can?t have an increase in the cap or the retirement age, that may be a difficult position to sustain,? he told The Washington Post. Democratic strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville are even more blunt. Because liberals haven?t laid out a plan for reform, they ?appear to lack direction, conviction, values, advocacy or a larger public purpose,? the pair wrote recently.
Indeed, they lack all those traits. Because they lack ideas.
Today?s liberals are no longer intellectuals. If anything, they?re post-intellectuals. They no longer seem to think it?s necessary to float ideas and propose solutions. They simply oppose the ideas and solutions proposed by the right.
Our country?s democracy would be healthier if liberals could come up with a real governing philosophy and take it to the voters. As a start, the left ought to present some plans to improve education and fix Social Security.
Conservatives are eager to lead. If the left won?t answer our challenge -- if they won?t lead by developing compelling ideas of their own -- they should at least follow, or get out of the way.
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