A recent David Brooks column declared that we are living in a progressive era, which he defined as a centralized government, alternately run by technocrats of both parties, spreading its centralizing tentacles into more and more decentralized systems. He suggests that this model has little public support and the public may eventually rebel French-Revolution style.
Assuming that happens, it is highly likely that whoever would take power in the aftermath would continue along the same centralizing path.
The problem is that decentralized institutions do not have decentralized effects—they impact the whole. Diverse financial services are not centrally controlled in this country but their complex interactions are tightly coupled, making financial catastrophes widely felt throughout the economy. Two skyscrapers are knocked down in
In following columns Brooks wrote about the partisan theories to cope with this bipartisan reality. Liberals seem to be able to admit that more centralization is the solution, and that the only debate worth having is over how to make government more efficient and fair in the process. Conservatives seem to have a gut reaction against the fundamental centralization in our society and think that decentralizing government, dispersing power to local control, will somehow change the underlying reality. Put this way, I think the liberals are at least being intellectually realist, while the conservatives serve the purpose of putting the breaks on the centralizing apparatus. Not many republicans—there are a few—are recommending restructuring American society to pre-Civil War levels of centralization.
The fundamental truth of American connectivity remains. The result is that
My Dad likes to say that the Peter Principle has come to
One day, when I am my Dad’s age, the liberals and conservatives, out of sheer desperation, may come to a grand bargain: decentralizing the country form the bottom up, while sowing incentives that allow people living in the new decentralized