09 September 2010

The American ruling class

Today, few speak well of the [American] ruling class. Not only has it burgeoned in size and pretense, but it also has undertaken wars it has not won, presided over a declining economy and mushrooming debt, made life more expensive, raised taxes, and talked down to the American people. Americans' conviction that the ruling class is as hostile as it is incompetent has solidified. The polls tell us that only about a fifth of Americans trust the government to do the right thing. The rest expect that it will do more harm than good and are no longer afraid to say so. America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution, by Angelo M. Codevilla, 'The American Spectator', July-August
Even years after policies have been implemented, it's often difficult to know whether they were right or wrong. For that reason alone, public buy-in is increasingly necessary, as society becomes still more complex and interdependent. One reason such buy-in is difficult to bring about in today's policymaking environment is the casting of policy in terms of activities, lofty but vague ideals, spending patterns, and arcane legislative decisions. It's difficult for ordinary people to understand and follow the policymaking process.

Social Policy Bonds could help generate more public participation and more buy-in. Their starting point is the targeting of outcomes that are meaningful to natural persons - as distinct from abstractions like corporate profits, or 'the economy'. Discussion would centre on these outcomes, their costs and relative priority.

It's dangerous, I think, when people become feel so alienated from the political class that we become cynical or despairing. Even sound, sensible policies then become objects of suspicion. Buy-in to crucial policy decisions, in times such as these, is not a luxury. It's a necessity and one that the current system is failing to provide.

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