Auotopsy on the American Dream, part 2

Continued from yesterday:

The core promise of the American dream has always been that you can do better than your parents. But we have to deal with the fact that our values have been hi-jacked.

We decided that we needed more democracy in our politics. What better way to do that than to allow people to go to the polls and vote in primary elections, to choose their nominees? That has not worked out.  What the founding fathers wanted was a representative democracy, not a pure democracy.  When you combine the notion of pure democracy with the total monetization of that democracy by having no limits on what people can spend and no limits on what rich people or rich corporations can contribute during elections , you have a democracy that just doesn’t work.  The smartest, most driven, most talented people have been able to use the. we paradigms to their own advantage at the expense of the common good.

For a country to work, you have to have balance between personal ambition and personal achievements and the common good. The way you do that is to have guardrails on the system. In finance, you have regulatory guardrails. You have labor laws that produce a level playing field between employer and employee. You have consumer protection laws. You have to ensure that the winners can’t win in a way that hurts everybody else. We need to restore the old values and long-term thinking, such as investment both in infrastructure and in companies, asopposed to stock buy- backs.

We need to redirect the old values that were hijacked — the First Amendment, due process, meritocracy, the financial and legal engineering — they need to be reanimated to undo some of the damage that’s been done.

On the other hand there are people out there doing really important work, really good work.The patient isn’t quite dead yet — there are some cures that are still possible.

(A condensed and edited, for length, version of a conversation between Sean Illing and “Tailspin” author Steven Brillon Today, Explained, a daily podcast, 28 June 2018) 

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