Thursday, October 27, 2016

Francis Fukuyama is Nervous

Francis Fukuyama – once famous for the historical optimism of his book The End of History – sounds a lot more pessimistic these days:
We went through a period like this in the 1930s after the Great Depression where you had a lot of economic distress and a lot of radical policies being pursued, and Germany and Italy went off in this authoritarian direction and the United States chose Franklin Roosevelt — a radical in the context of American politics, but [he] stayed well within the political frame.

I think people thought that just reflected a very different kind of American political culture that is deeply democratic and liberal. I think this election year has suggested that maybe we were just lucky back then and there was nothing deeply constraining that kind of move other than just good leadership.
Asked what he would advise the next president to focus on, he said:
You would need to address the problem of campaign finance on the left and right motivating a lot of the anger. If it requires political pressure on the court to require higher regulation of money in politics, that would be part of the agenda.

Fundamentally, the inequality problem is also the driver of a lot of the anger. There’s two things I think you could do that would have an impact: tax reform that would get rid of our ridiculous tax forms that are full of giveaways for special interests in the country. And then infrastructure — a big investment spree that would have to be accompanied by changes to rules that make it hard to get these changes done in less than 10 years.

Between those two things, I think you’d address the underlying causes of voter anger.
I certainly agree that radically simplifying the tax form would be much appreciated by Americans, but I doubt it would do much to dent inequality.

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