Brooks & Blond on our Broken Society

Sometimes I think NY Times Columnist David Brooks is nuts, like when he states that our government is too transparent.

Other times, I think he is so right. Case in point is Thursday's column about rampant skepticism and contempt and dysfunction in modern society. He quotes the British writer Phillip Blond who wrote:
"We are a bi-polar nation, a bureaucratic, centralised state that presides dysfunctionally over an increasingly fragmented, disempowered and isolated citizenry."
Maybe it isn't quite that bad, but his ideas for reform sound like good ones:
  • passing zoning legislation to give small shopkeepers a shot against the retail giants
  • reducing barriers to entry for new businesses
  • revitalizing local banks
  • encouraging employee share ownership
  • setting up local capital funds so community associations could invest in local enterprises
  • rewarding savings
  • cutting regulations that socialize risk and privatize profit
  • reducing the subsidies that flow from big government and big business.
  • reduce the power of senior government officials and widen the discretion of front-line civil servants
  • decentralize power, giving more budget authority to the smallest units of government
  • funnel more services through charities
  • increase investments in infrastructure, so that more places could be vibrant economic hubs.
  • rebuild the “village college” so that universities would be more intertwined with the towns around them.
I'm not holding my breath waiting for Harvard to realize that it can be both a global research university and a "village college", but it is all something worth thinking about.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for that Harry. I have been saying that a reduced commercial r.e. tax rate in Boston would make it easier for Harvard to rent its spaces to commercial ventures. I don't see the incentive to locate in Allston as opposed to Watertown, especially with a $10 differential in tax rates per square foot.

    We have an extremely high rate with discounts for favored developers and businesses. You could say that Harvard has the ultimate discount. How different things would have been if Allston had been populated by aggressive, growing new-economy companies. What if this land had been generating tax revenue all that time? Wouldn't the battles over the schools and libraries look different? Wouldn't the residents be living a much richer life if they had access to high-wage, high-growth local jobs?

    What is needed is a flatter, fairer system that allows small local development as a counterbalance to the alliance of government with its power and big business with its graft-bought price advantage.