The Centrality of Social Policy
Published on: September 9, 2006
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  • Inger- Marie Schjønberg

    Di you by this mean that what America need is a social-democratic economy, based on the Scandinavian model?

  • It seems to me that we have two problems when it comes to being socially helpful abroad. The first has to do with longstanding bureaucratic inefficiency and the lack of expertise (something like $79 million was appropriated for building local government in Iraq: the number of trained and available people in the American government and private sector who know how to do that is miniscule). The second is related to what you have to say about the cutting back of the state sector in the U.S. and its ramifications.

    It has seemed to me that the overwhelming prosperity of the ’90s not only made social cutbacks possible or easier to do but also fed the great American appetite for individual freedom. I think it’s been manifest that at least half (and very possibly more) of the American people concluded by the end of the ’90s that they don’t want government to do ANYTHING, and especially anything that might interfere with feeding appetites multiplied by the increase in private means to satisfy them. Consequently, 9/11 and the questions it raised (e.g., does something new, important, strenuous, and potentially dangerous to me really have to be done?) came very much at a bad time for the public to respond at all, let alone sensibly. No wonder there’s been no rush to thinking creatively about social policy, especially that related to the world abroad. Common sense may dictate that we need this. But the question now seems to me not how to convince us as to what is common sense but how to create the appetite to commit to it.

  • I do not mean a Scandinavian model. Social policy if it is to be done properly in a developing-country context has to be done very carefully because it gets very expensive and growth-inhibiting very quickly. Europe today finds itself saddled with a welfare state it will not be able to afford, and we do not want to duplicate that in the developing world.

  • Ken

    Francis thanks for your informative post. I think what Hamas and Hezbollah evolve into are ‘alternative governments’ They go out and fulfil the dreams of the people.

    What most less developed countries need is infrastructure. Any leader who makes an attempt to improve the general welfare (clean water, affordable hospitals, roads, education etc.. ) is a darling amongst the majority.
    I think the US should back up a little and only assist from a humanitarian way. (Provide drugs, security etc) only when needed. At the moment there is an element of imposing and that automatically creates resistance.

  • Dear Mr. Fukuyama:
    My suggestion for a title would be “Protecting Our Shores and Borders Against Non-overwhelming Force: Why We Have A Military.”

    That’s a long title but it goes towards world peace and, admittedly, non- vs. possibly deterrent force is a difficult decision to make but that is what human morality and our forefather’s dictum to stay out of foreign entanglements require.

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