Yascha Mounk and Rep. Ro Khanna discuss the prospects for a more “people-oriented” society.
All the warm sentiments of progressives invariably run head long into the concrete wall of reality. The result is an unchecked "trust us" ethos because they beg the question of good intentions. *Conservatives* start off on stronger footing for the simple reason they presume the fallen nature of man (and for libertarians its secular counterpart selfishness). Progressives promise a secular absolution from man's sins, but this is a paper promise at best.
What is this reality I refer to ?
First, the problem of scarcity, the number one rule of economics. Free healthcare. Affordable housing. Free college. Are NOT things. There is a reason that promises of *affordable* anything by the government is directly tied to massively inflated prices for these services and goods. If you wonder about the 80K per year college or 1M per unit *affordable* housing project or the 2K MRI look no further than government efforts at affordability. Even if you accept the social insurance premise (as Hayek, Friedman, and many on the right have), the progressive allergy to individual agency dooms all their schemes.
Second is the law of organizational limitations. If you follow Max Weber, you understand that Government is the "entity with the monopoly on the legitimate use of force". Progressive's core belief in their own goodness drives them to use the blunt force of government to "cut through" any objections to their utopian plans (dissent is so pesky). But the government is a very blunt and very limited animal. Do fewer things and do them better is a far better organizational rule, than let us craft a more perfect world in every way with one bossy entity. Agency, knowledge and systems theory have long identified progressivism's core flaw here, but like Faye's Horseshoe theory of politics and Laffer's curve, this reality has fallen into the category of "most demonstrated, yet most ignored" civic realities.
Lastly (for this purpose), there is the reality that you can't manage what you don't measure. The foundational ethos of progressives is toward lofty goals that are immeasurable and summed up in a series of misnomers, oxymorons, and outright gaslighting. Social justice. Equity. Positive rights. Climate crisis. Not to mention pure Orwellian double speak like diversity and inclusion. Real governance starts with metrics and tradeoffs, which is why when you see that Florida has half the budget of New York but delivers better services all around to more population, it is wise to take notes.
Khanna is very far from worst of the batch. I think he actually believes much of what he is trying to accomplish. The same cannot be said for many of his more opportunistic colleagues on the left.
Representative Khanna's vision of capitalism is a robust, efficient and innovative private sector subject to the guidance of an all-knowing, effective and beneficent central government. I have found that vision to be very appealing to people who have never provided goods or services in a competitive environment. Unfortunately, work for most people in the private and public sectors is subject to error, disappointment, frustration and failure with the occasional success that makes it all worthwhile.
I like Khanna and share many of his views… in fact most are my advocacy and professional role, but he is in conflict with his views only I think to maintain his “good Democrat”. His focus on place is correct. But then he goes off on the left trope critical for not focusing on identity victim groups. I suspect he supports DEI.
“The balance is how we can have this common culture while making room for equality of participation in creating that culture—a balance between the past and newcomers. That is a large part of the American struggle right now, because we're trying to figure out what that common American culture looks like. Economic patriotism is sort of the low-hanging fruit in building this broader patriotism.”
This too I think fails in understanding the impacts of massive immigration. While I do agree that economic aspect can be the glue that holds a diverse multi ethnic country together, multiculturalism isn’t conducive to that “family” analogy and injects more, rather than less, patriotism into the collective ethos of the nation. There are trade offs of course, but we fail to discuss these negative impacts of too many competing and conflicting cultural values that create separation between people and communities. Immigrants that don’t assimilate and look to create their own community and elect reps that share their views and values they bring from their home country… that cannot support a more perfect union.
I've just added another name to my growing list of viable presidential candidates to replace ageing-out Joe Biden. Ro Khanna lacks experience and name recognition, but that didn't stop Barack Obama.
I stopped listening when Rep. Khanna gratuitously questioned the level of deliberation in today's Supreme Court. I take no personal offense at the comment, but I highly doubt that he's got any actual dirt on those deliberations, or has even listened to oral arguments.
I can't read his mind and don't enjoy making these assumptions, but since he seems to be doing exactly that with the Court I'll say that he's probably assuming that conservative -- and especially religious -- justices are justices whose jurisprudence is guided by their desired outcomes, as opposed to progressive justices who are consummate professionals and simply apply the law (or who are equally biased, but, you know, in a good way).
That's certainly the picture painted by, say, New York Times coverage of the Court (in really egregious ways) and is the preferred view of many progressives.
I don't say that his other statements can't be taken at face value or that he has nothing of value to say, but let losing my attention be an ever-so-tiny cost to taking swipes at people for political convenience.
Khanna is very optimistic about the motivations of capitalism. Unfortunately the motivations of power and revenge play a role in many areas of the economy. Lots of feeling against any government programs to benefit "unworthy" people. A big issue: How to bring the bottom fourth of the society/economy into the electronic age? They don't buy enough to tempt advertisers and this outreach will cost a lot creating resentment. Really permanent underclass anyone?