That Idea Is Old And Stale
He correctly notes a few interesting things:
New ideas," "bold visions," "detailed solutions" and "courageous policies" almost never originate with politicians, especially politicians in the middle of election campaigns. Political consultants, with a few honorable exceptions, don't do "vision" either.
It's pretty easy to point out that Reagan in 1980 and Gingrich in 1994 were the last two who really showed "vision" during an election. Dionne does point out that Reagan's vision was more of a rehash of William F. Buckley and other's writings, but moved to a much wider audience.
He then gets into the "big idea" the left needs to sell, the common good; unfortunately, it's going to be a tougher idea to sell than it was 30 or 40 years ago. Part of the reason for that can be traced to Bill Clinton and welfare reform, the rest to Reagan's vision of "a hand up, not a hand out".
Unfortunately, for the left, both of those worked exactly as the right said they would. While the far left cried that millions would end up on the streets because of welfare reform, instead there are millions of new homeowners and workers, less people living in poverty and the masses that were going to flood the streets never materialized.
Other than the farthest left end of the spectrum American's have come to realize that a "common good welfare state" ends up a failure, on all levels. It allows a permanent underclass to fester and not attempt to move up, and ends up a drag on those who wish to move upward in society.
I pick on "Old Europe" a lot in my musings because nearly every idea of the "progessive left" is rooted in something they do over there; most of it endin up as an abject failure. The "common good" mantra of Europe has left Germany, France, Italy and Spain as shells of their old selves, supporting an ever growing dole, as jobs vanish to "New Europe", where upward mobility, and personal accomplishment are still rewarded.
The idea of tough labor laws that make it impossible to get rid of poor workers has given France it's huge unemployment rates. The "common good" idea of regulated drug prices has destroyed the European pharmaceutical industry, which now produces about 20% of the worlds new drugs, down from 66% twenty years ago.
Strict, protectionist measures in their economies has destroyed the chance of an EU Constitution, and huge government subsidies, that have helped a few businesses, have taxed others off the continent.
Does that mean there can't be tweaks to our system to make it better, and more accomodating, absolutely not. But at the same time those tweaks need to be rooted in fact and ideas that can actually work, not the fantasies that have proven to fail over and over again.
For instance, prescription drug prices are constantly lamented in the US, rightfully so. We are one of the few major countries left that allows profits in the pharmaceutical industry to offset R&D costs.
Instead of deciding, as Europe and Canada have, on an arbritrary price, based on other nations controlled prices, we need to take a different tack. Impose an export tariff on drug to countries that don't calculate their price to include the US wholesale cost. Use that money to cover the cost of the new Medicare prescription drug benefits, and help low income people pay for their prescriptions.
Along with that would have to be an agreement between the drug companies and the government to pass any additional profit from countries who do recalculate back to the consumer.
Europe has proven what capping prices does, it stifles innovation, and if we decide to take that road "for the common good", we'll watch our own drug companies leave the US for China, India, and other countries that understand that.
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