from Follow the Money

The Economist’s Lexington columnist needs to get out a bit more …

March 27, 2006

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Rather amazingly, the only US public intellectuals that seem to have made it onto Lexington's radar screen come from the American right.     The Neocon right and its pet idea (invading Iraq), the economic right and its pet idea (tax cuts), the Harvey C- Mansfield right and its pet idea (manliness).   And the ubiquitous Charles Murray.

Lexington could not find any public intellectuals (or ideas) from the center, the center-left or the left worthy of mention ...

Not Mansfield's colleague Robert Putnam, who not only noticed that Americans' now bowl alone but also tried (perhaps without much success) to recreate a nation of civically-engaged joiners.

Or any one working on ideas to remake America's costly and increasingly dysfunctional health care system.    Warmed-over proposals to provide high-income Americans with yet another tax deduction (health savings accounts) hardly count as innovative.

I would say that the interesting policy debate on globalization currently is found on the left, not the right. The left takes seriously idea that the US needs to find ways to share the benefits of globalization more broadly and address growing concerns about economic insecurity and income volatility, even if there is not quite full agreement on how exactly to respond.   At least the left doesn't just argue that higher CEO productivity justifies higher CEO pay (even though higher economy wide productivity doesn't seem to justify higher average pay). Or suggest that the right response to rising job insecurity is less social security. 

Certainly the interesting policy proposals for addressing what has come to be called "global imbalances" have tended to come from the center and the left. 

The right - setting Martin Feldstein aside -- prefers to call Saudi and Chinese central bank financing of the US a market outcome ...  

Or least argue that nothing much should be done about rising US current account deficit.  

Policy intellectuals on the center-left, by contrast, have spent plenty of time developing up ideas for a coordinated global response to a growing problem, or even dreaming of new institutions to help emerging economies could get more bang for their (reserve) buck and in the process help to finance the provision of global public goods.   At least the FT seems to have noticed. 

Andy Mukherjee too.

Rant over.  I'll return to more technical analysis -- and commentary on the Economist' special section on China -- soon. 

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