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Week in Review

This week we responded to Matt Yglesias’ eye-opening experiences with government red tape. The liberal columnist encountered the darker side of the blue model when he attempted to file for a single basic business license. This got us thinking again about the failures of Liberalism 4.0:

Heavy regulation plus bad governance hurts the poor and prevents jobs from being created in big blue cities where so many immigrants and minorities live. Those are exactly the people who most need the freedom to start businesses, and those are the businesses our existing blue model cities do so much to crush.

Many of these regulations and bureaucratic obstacles, moreover, serve no social purpose. As Yglesias’ experience shows, the move for government reform does not need to be an ideological or partisan issue: liberals should fight pointless, expensive, poor-exploiting and opportunity-killing regulation as hard as conservatives. […]

A lighter, smarter state is better for the poor than a clumsy behemoth that strangles entrepreneurship, raises costs and favors existing interests. Somehow, though, it is considered a sign of being on the radical right fringe to point things like this out—just as it’s considered right wing and borderline racist to be filled with rage at the corrupt one party political machines that exploit, strangle, miseducate and otherwise cheat the poor in cities across this great nation. […]

…These days, too many “liberals” are baby-loathing bathwater hoarders. A powerful faction of the Democratic Party thinks it’s more important to preserve education bureaucracies and life tenure for bad teachers than to help poor kids get a good education. It is the poor, not the modern equivalent of Tammany Hall, whose interests the enlightened should defend. It is the future, not the past, that a pro-middle class American political movement should serve. It is the inner city entrepreneur, not the political machine we should care about.

News from Asia this week centered on the Game of Thrones in the Pacific. Jon Huntsman reminded us of the dangers of excessive posturing over disputed islands. This sober reminder came after China aimed missiles at Japanese ships and a helicopter. We’ve been hearing privately from a lot of experienced people that the danger of conflict in the East Pacific is higher than most people think, and suggested that investors and manufacturers review just how sensitive their operations are to ugly news from Asia. Meanwhile, China is looking at domestic reforms, allowing the country’s largest private employer to hold its first free labor elections, and debating the repeal of its one-child policy. India struggled with choking air pollution in its capital and revised growth projections that suggest another BRIC may be hitting the wall.

In Africa, we learned definitively that arms from Libya made their way to the war in Mali. The Malian endgame is going about as well for France as Afghanistan did for the US, and an opposition leader was assassinated in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring. At least Rwanda’s spectacular healthcare revolution has been one bright spot in a week of bad news.

Elsewhere, the reputation of a prominent green crusader went down in flames, as he was accused of bribing his way to a record $18 billion lawsuit against Texaco in Ecuador. Meanwhile, we learned that consumerism is making the economy greener, as online shopping forces malls to shut down or repurpose themselves as education and healthcare centers. In energy news, we’re preparing for a clash of the titans in California, as the state’s uber-powerful green lobby gears up to fight against exploration of the country’s single largest shale oil formation. But there is concern that the shale boom could go bust if smarter policies aren’t put in place.

In Europe, the EU’s refusal to name Hezbollah a terrorist organization was tested by news out of Bulgaria that confirmed Hezbollah’s hand in suicide bombings that killed five Israeli tourists last year. François Hollande did his best ostrich impression before EU budget cut talks with David Cameron, and the US saw its possible future in the carnage at a British hospital.

And all the while, the blue social model continued to decay. Boomers continued their war on the young, sticking their children (and grandchildren) with the gas bill. We also learned that the young are also getting screwed by private-sector pensions. The USPS announced it will cancel Saturday mail service, and New York City lost its title as skyscraper king. In online-ed, MOOCs have proven that they still could use some work.

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