Monday, February 4, 2019

The Government Can’t—and Won’t—Give Meaning to Your Life: New at Reason

By Reason Staff - February 04, 2019 at 08:00AM

Every policy proposal is, in a direct sense, an attempt to solve a problem. Poverty, ignorance, hunger, sickness, danger, pollution—in the realm of politics, to name a problem is to call for a solution, to demand that action be taken by someone or something, which always turns out to be the government.

In his new book, The Once and Future Worker, Oren Cass, a scholar at the Manhattan Institute and a former policy adviser on Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, offers a slew of policy proposals, from loosening environmental regulations to reshaping collective bargaining to overhauling the process by which the federal government funds state-based poverty programs to creating new wage subsidies for low-income workers. Each of these ideas is an attempt to address a little problem, all of which add up to a much bigger problem.

Cass starts from what he has dubbed the "Working Hypothesis"—that "a labor market in which workers can support strong families and communities is the central determinant of long-term prosperity and should be the central focus of public policy." His primary target is "economic piety"—the prevailing notion that the organizing aspiration of politics and policy should be to promote economic growth above all. He describes his book as an attempt to reorient American politics around promoting work and the interests of workers, especially less educated workers in manufacturing jobs.

But Cass' description understates his own ambitions, writes Peter Suderman.

View this article.

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