The WSJ recently invited some people to give their ideas for "renewing American prosperity". I will quickly grade them, after grouping them into general categories.
Category 1: Improve Infrastructure (A+)
Charles Murray: "Fix the way we do public works"
I have a dream...in which the government performs one of its few legitimate functions by repairing and improving the nation's public infrastructure—competently. In this dream scenario, contracts are awarded on the basis of cost and the contractor's track record, and not, as they are today, on whether the workers are unionized or have the correct ethnic and gender diversity. Decisions about projects in this dream are not subjected to review by 13 different environmental and development bureaucracies. Yes, a proposal to build a new superhighway across the Everglades gets a hard-eyed assessment, but a proposal to replace an existing bridge across the Hudson is evaluated on its engineering merits and routine eminent-domain concerns—and that's it.
The inspiriting part of the dream is that as I drive down a highway that is being repaired in the middle of the day, I don't drive past a few miles of idle construction equipment while a lone bulldozer scrapes away. Instead, I see the level of activity typical at a commercial construction site. Projects that once took years are finished in months. Repairs that once took months are finished in weeks.
This seems like a big one. Murray gives the issue a conservative gloss by tossing in some right-wing keywords, but the basic principle is sound.
Category 2: Reduce Regulation of Technology (A)
Peter W. Huber: "Unleash molecular medicine"
Washington's drug-approval process, grounded as it is in a one-size-fits-all perspective on how drugs are supposed to operate, and anchored in clinical-trial protocols and statistical methods developed decades ago, is lagging far behind the science. We need a regulatory process that can keep pace with a rapid proliferation of highly customized therapies that are grounded in a mechanistic understanding of molecular biology. This will require fundamental changes in clinical-trial protocols and in the type of evidence that is required for drug approval.
Paul Otellini: "Liberate Uber (and the lemonade stand)"
What we need is neither hard nor unknown. First, review all of our regulations from the federal to the local level to ensure they make it easier to start and run businesses and employ workers while maintaining the essentials of health and safety that we have come to expect. Second, create competitive tax rates that incentivize U.S. companies to operate here and foreign companies to locate here.
These are great. I agree with these. Not sure they'll have quite as big an impact as infrastructure at the moment, but important nonetheless...
Category 3: Improve Education and Human Capital (A-)
Mike Milken: "Focus on developing human capital"
The focus in education should be on the classroom...We give Oscars to actors, Grammys to singers and Nobel Prizes to scientists...
America's greatest health challenge, representing 75% of current health-care spending, is the burden of chronic diseases. Public-health programs emphasizing prevention and wellness will help reduce that burden...
Immigration restrictions that keep out highly skilled workers, investors and entrepreneurs are counterproductive. These ambitious people can stimulate economic growth and create more jobs for all Americans. We should greet them with open arms.
Michelle Rhee: "Set this goal: A great teacher for every child"
How should we improve America's schools? It starts with great teachers. Research shows that teacher quality is the single most important in-school factor affecting student performance. We need rigorous, practical and accountable teacher-preparation programs. We need comprehensive classroom support and professional development to help teachers improve their craft. We need to recognize and reward the best teachers for their impact on students—not just how long the teachers have been on the job.Wendy Kopp: "Transform education with the 'long game'"
These are big and good and important things, but good luck reforming America's education system! (I mean that unironically; I wish Michelle Rhee good luck. I am just not optimistic in the slightest.)
Category 4: Random Good Ideas That Seem Unlikely to Happen (B)
Juan Williams: "Move elections to weekends"
Cliff Asness: "Head off the looming pension tsunami"
As long as I'm wishing, I'd like a pony...
Category 5: General Structural Reform and Government Efficiency (C-)
George P. Shultz: "Return to constitutional government"
John Cochrane: "Limit government and restore the rule of law"
George Gilder: "Listen to Peter Drucker on regulations"
Kelly Ayotte: "Make a grand fiscal bargain"
Some good ideas, some bad, all small-bore, all politically difficult, mostly vague.
Category 6: Republiderp and Conservaderp (D-)
Paul Ryan: "Fix the job-killing tax code"
Heather MacDonald: "Encourage two-parent families"
Though many factors are at play, the biggest culprit is feminism's devaluing of males and the conceit that "strong women" can do it all. Reversing the trend of fatherlessness will require public figures, from President Obama on down, to violate feminist taboos...
Carly Fiorina: "Pull the plug on crony capitalism"
Wall Street bailouts, the housing crisis and the tragedy of ObamaCare are just a few examples of overbearing government.
Stanley Druckenmiller: "Cut taxes and watch the economy take off"
Arthur C. Brooks: "Inspire real hope, not the bumper-sticker kind"
Uh-huh. Yeah. Thanks a lot, guys. Whatever.
Category 7: Dark Enlightenment Trolling (F)
Harvey Mansfield: "Rediscover men and women's differences"
Amid the damage caused by bad ideas in our time, let us not overlook that done by the scourge of feminism—together with the male timidity and misplaced male gallantry that suffer it to proceed unopposed. Feminism has established the rule of gender neutrality in our society, a conclusion drawn from its doctrine that the sexes have no essential differences and are interchangeable. In practice, no one consistently follows this preposterous idea, endorsed neither by science nor by common sense. Only the minority of feminist women assert it (even while demanding special treatment for women). But it is a powerful minority that has been taught at our finest, and our average, institutions of so-called education.
Gender neutrality presents itself in plausible guise as the way to avoid sex discrimination, so as to give women a fair shake in the competition for jobs. But it goes far beyond this reasonable goal to an attempt to erase sex differences. The two sexes are to imitate each other, and each to follow the worst in the other: Women are to imitate predatory and aggressive males, men to imitate passive and submissive females.
The result of gender neutrality is to justify women in more extreme partisanship for their sex than they ever encountered in faltering male chauvinism. It is also to encourage them in the game of charmless, loveless sex that feminists offer in place of romance. The change we need is to rediscover our sexes and to make both of them more assertive of their differences, so that their attraction to each other becomes more interesting (and more fruitful) than under the grim domination of feminism. We may then find that men and women make couples, each sex making its contribution, rather than uneasy partners in selfish pleasure.
This probably deserves more of an "F U" than an "F". The proposal runs counter to American ideals of individuality and freedom, and if implemented would hurt the economy by reversing gains in female labor participation. And the statement of the problem itself is made-up bullshit. America does not need the ideas of Harvey Mansfield.