Too Much Dynamism? 1/25
Ryan Streeter says that we need more of it
The populist turn of the American right over the past decade has created a policy affinity, if not an ideological one, between nationalist conservatives and mainstream progressives. Both camps are energized by a moral narrative about the injustices of corporate greed and the failures of the elite, which expresses itself through support for industrial policy, worker protections, family allowances, trust-busting, and redistributing wealth to bolster working-class wages and living conditions.
This turn has resulted in a groundswell of support for a kind of benevolent statism. Its rationale usually involves a critique of the disruption wrought by dynamism in an unfettered free market. Understood in large part as Schumpeterian creative destruction, dynamism is considered by nationalist conservatives to be the culprit behind insecurity for workers and stagnation for communities.
Streeter instead blames the decay in parts of America on a lack of dynamism, rather than an excess. Among his proposed solutions:
Semester- and summer-abroad programs should be a regular part of everyone’s experience, starting in high school and continuing through the post-secondary years. Experiencing other cultures and facing difference produces a kind of resilience that pays dividends throughout one’s life.
I would like to see high school students in America have semesters living in different environments within the United States. One does not have to go abroad to experience alien cultures.
Streeter also recommends
A congressional commission that moves, one by one, through major sectors of the economy and makes recommendations for weakening the ability of regulators and industries to work together on shared interests would be an important first step toward building awareness and support for enhanced competitiveness in our political economy.
I can think of a lot of targets for such a commission. Occupational licensing. College degree requirements for government jobs. Restrictions on residential construction.
There are other proposals in Streeter’s essay. But as he points out, there are no short-term solutions. A lot of American workers have in fact been displaced by innovation. But in trying to offer hope to struggling areas, we probably are better off turning toward dynamism than away from it.