America 5.0

James Piereson has a thought provoking essay posted at The New Criterion on the possibility of a forthcoming political revolution. He points to three previous revolutions that bought lasting institutional and cultural change to America. They occurred in 1800, 1861 … 1865, and 1932.

The first brought the end of the Federalist regime and was dominated by the Jefferson/Jackson Democratic party. The second brought the end to slavery and the beginning of serious industrialization. It was dominated by the post-Civil-War Republicans. The third was the New Deal, dominated by the modern Democratic party.

Each of these revolutions was preceded by a breakdown of the old order’s ability to effectively govern. Jefferson’s revolution was sparked by the Alien and Sedition Acts. Lincoln’s was set in motion by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. FDR launched his via the Great Depression.

The New Deal and it’s understanding of how government runs society has led to our present structural mess caused by so many rent-seeking hands in the public till. As the system runs up against the limits of Thatcher’s Law (The problem with socialist governments is that they eventually run out of other people’s money.), the likelihood of another radical change in institutional forms increases.

Read the whole thing.

2 thoughts on “America 5.0


  1. The problem is not so many “poor” people with their hands in the public till as rent seeking wealthy individuals and corporations. Why does this nation support through $4.2 Trillion in tax expenditures to thriving, well-established, profitable companies? Why do some pay 15% or less on their taxes when families of lesser income pay much more?

    Socialism is not the problem…unless your moral value system says let those who have been hit the hardest through no fault of their own must suffer and maybe die. What is the problem, which few are willing to admit, is we’ve now entered a global economy and marketplace – along with increased technology – that have changed all the market dynamics.

    In the ’80s, Reagan became concerned about decreased manufacturing and established a committee to determine a solution for all those who would be thrown out of work. GHW Bush disbanded that committee. Nevertheless, each recession since caused a greater utility of technology, meaning fewer worker were needed once the recession ended and demand returned. The result has been fewer workers needed to accomplish the same demand output.

    Moreover, wages flat-lined or decreased over the last 2-plus decades as a result of increased health care insurance costs and through outsourcing abroad. The result ended up being far fewer people and families with wages high enough to meet rising living costs which put greater strains on state and federal budgets. Rather than understanding what was happening in the larger real economy – and ordinary people’s lives – Congress shut their eyes while spending 60% of their time “dialing for dollars” amongst the wealthy owner and investor class.

    The idea of an Ayn Rand/libertarian philosophy worked well when people could leave their over-crowded, poorly paying living areas and jobs to strike out for unknown open places to start again and create new, supportive communities. But those days are long gone, never to return. We’ve now entered an age where even ideologies of 25 years ago no longer work. We need new ideas that will work for every economic strata of the American public. Or this nation will simply decline in economic importance globally because the true strength of a nation rests in the health of its broad and growing middle class.


    • Very few of rent-seeking hands in the public till belong to poor folks. Most bureaucrats are middle-class. Most employees of government contractors are middle-class. (I am.) Most recipients of government benefits are middle-class. The current idea of how government should work as derived from New Deal principles is being stretched past it limit. As Glenn Reynolds often says, things that can’t go on forever won’t.

      It’s likely that a new central idea of what the government’s role in society should be will begin to emerge soon. I would be interested to read your further comments after you have read Piereson’s essay.

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