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?
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.
Things were bad enough when all decisions began to bunch up at the state capital. Now they cluster at the tip-top -- the U.S. Department of Education, may it vanish in the night like a carpet stain soaked in detergent. The Obama administration is currently in the process of trying to set national standards for school performance. It already controls the way federal money is spent at the local level -- overmatched experts from colleges of education.
In other words, he hopes we might become again what we once were: a people dedicated to the proposition that those nearest a problem know the most about it. Shouldn't they?
Let's not celebrate just yet. Remember the time and space needful for nations to turn upon their axes: great battleships in a bathtub. Still, what could be nearer our present purposes than some counsel we once heard from within the Obama administration? Never, so the counsel went, let a crisis go to waste -- this crisis, flowing from forgetfulness as to what happens when government promises the moon ... and falls flat on delivering the atmospheric gases.