Politics vs Economics III

In his analysis of the recent elections which I wrote about previously Richard Florida quotes the Cato Institute’s Brink Lindsey. Who said Here, in the first decade of the 21st century, the rival ideologies of left and right are both pining for the ’50s. The only difference is that liberals want to work there, while conservatives want to go home there.

What an amazingly insightful summary of our politics. Two parties focused on turning the clock back: recreating the America of the Fifties. Lindsey is exactly right that the left is about recreating the economy of the Fifties (or the Nineties for that matter). One that is high paid, factory based. And the right is about recreating the world of Ozzie and Harriet. Which not only is more small town oriented, but also more religious and quite frankly less diverse and tolerant of those who are different than most of us (African Americans, gays, immigrants, non Christians).

Florida’s conclusion is that unless the “turn the clock back” policies of both parties changes the United States is likely to remain stalled at its current impasse, lurching between economic and political cycles while failing to address the deep structural challenges it faces — and unable to develop the much-needed reforms, new economic policies, and broad infrastructure investments required for a new round of sustained prosperity.

Exactly right. Pining for the rural/blue collar economy and culture of the past is not the road to prosperity in a world driven by technology and globalization. It is dead end. That economy is gone forever. Not because of our politics, but because the forces that are flattening the world are more powerful, by orders of magnitude, than politics or policy. Either you align with the new realities – which requires advanced economies like the US to become far more knowledge-based – or you get poorer.

And the places that are and will continue to be where the knowledge-based economy is concentrated are big metros anchored by vibrant central cities. This is the pattern across the planet. Two chore characteristics of successful big metros and vibrant central cities are having knowledge-based economies and being welcoming to all. The Michigan 3.0 Governor Snyder campaigned on.

But Michigan can’t get to that economy unless we reject the politics that as Lindsey states is based on recreating where we worked and lived in the Fifties.

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