October 12, 2018


How the Third Way lost its way: We forged it in response to social and economic change - now new circumstances require new policies (Bill Galston, 03 OCTOBER 2018, UnHerd)

Overall, the document declared, the old version of social democracy overstated the weaknesses of markets and undervalued the importance of individual and business enterprise to the creation of wealth. It assumed that public expenditure as a share of national income could rise indefinitely. It assumed that government could row the boat, not just steer it, and that public programmes could be effective as they proliferated without coordination or consolidation. And it assumed that the economy and polity would remain strong as family and community ties weakened.

Although the values of social democracy are timeless, the document continued, its policies must be modernised in response to changing circumstances. This means revising social democrats' long-held beliefs about the relationship between the market and the state: "government does all it can to support enterprise but never believes it is a substitute for enterprise".

It means distinguishing between social justice and equality of outcomes: the latter entailed "a neglect of the importance of rewarding effort and responsibility", burdening work with "ever higher costs", and failing to celebrate creativity and excellence. It means questioning the relationship between social justice and "ever higher levels of public spending", which can negatively affect competitiveness, job creation, and living standards.

It means righting the imbalance between rights, which have proliferated, and responsibilities, which have withered. It means limiting state regulations designed to address market failures, because "universal social safeguards can exact an excessive toll on entrepreneurship, individual responsibility, and community spirit.

As a populist, Donald advocates alternately for the First Way and the Second Way with no coherence, which renders him unable to govern.  Happily.

Posted by at October 12, 2018 4:30 AM