“The technologies of the industrial revolution favored centralization, while the technologies of the information revolution shift the balance somewhat more toward decentralization.” That’s from a blogpost by economist Arnold Kling, to which I was directed by Tyler Cowen in the excellent Marginal Revolution blog. Kling’s blogpost is both brilliant and succinct and well worth your time. He makes reference to his 2009 book Unchecked and Unbalanced: How the Discrepancy Between Knowledge and Power Caused the Financial Crisis and Threatens Democracy, but did not include a link, so here it is.
I think Kling pretty well sums up the world we live in. In politics Barack Obama and the Obama Democrats are trying to preserve, protect and extend centralizing institutions in a time when the economy and culture are decentralizing. Those policies are producing disappointing economic and political results, because they go against the grain of our evolving society.
Republicans, in contrast, tend to favor policies that work in tandem with the decentralizing trend. But explaining that is difficult. This is what I was getting at in my April 8 Examiner column, in these paragraphs on how Mitt Romney might make his case to young voters.
“Romney needs to make the case that current policy -- what Obama has fallen back on -- is leading to a crash in which government will fail to keep its promises.
“He needs to argue that his ‘opportunity society’ means vibrant economic growth that can provide, in ways that can't be precisely predicted, opportunities in which young people can find work that draws on their special talents and interests.
“Obama's policies, in contrast, treat individuals as just one cog in a very large machine, designed by supposed experts who don't seem to know what they're doing (see Obamacare, Solyndra). Their supposedly cutting edge technology (electric cars, passenger rail) is more than a century old.”