Sunday, November 3, 2013

Plutocrats vs. Populists. By Chrystia Freeland.

Plutocrats vs. Populists. By Chrystia Freeland. New York Times, November 1, 2013.

Why is Chrystia Freeland leaving journalism to run for office? By Ezra Klein. Washington Post, August 16, 2013. Also here.

Retooling capitalism for the social good. By Chrystia Freeland. Reuters, July 19, 2013.

Mysteries of the middle class. By Chrystia Freeland. Reuters, June 28, 2013.

The Rise of the New Global Elite and the Crisis of the Middle Class. NJBR, February 14, 2013. Articles by Freeland and others.

Jeremy Lin, Superstar Economics, and the Culture of Aspiration. NJBR, February 19, 2013. Articles by Freeland and others.

Freeland (Plutocrats):

Plutocratic politics have much to recommend them. They are pure, smart and focused. But at a time when society as a whole is riven by an ever widening economic chasm, policy delivered from on high can get you only so far. Voters on both the right and the left are suspicious of whether the plutocrats and the technocrats they employ understand their real needs, and whether they truly have their best interests at heart. That rift means we should all brace ourselves for more extremist politics and a more rancorous political debate.
Where does that leave smart centrists with their clever, fact-based policies designed to fine-tune 21st century capitalism and make it work better for everyone?
Part of the problem is that no one has yet come up with a fully convincing answer to the question of how you harness the power of the technology revolution and globalization without hollowing out middle-class jobs. Liberal nanny-state paternalism, as it has been brilliantly described and practiced by Cass R. Sunstein and like-minded thinkers, can help, as can shoring up the welfare state. But neither is enough, and voters are smart enough to appreciate that. Even multiple nudges won’t make 21st-century capitalism work for everyone. Plutocrats, as well as the rest of us, need to rise to this larger challenge, to find solutions that work on the global scale at which business already operates.
The other task is to fully engage in retail, bottom-up politics — not just to sell those carefully thought-through, data-based technocratic solutions but to figure out what they should be in the first place. The Tea Party was able to steer the Republican Party away from its traditional country-club base because its anti-establishment rage resonated better with all of the grass-roots Republican voters who are part of the squeezed middle class. Mr. de Blasio will be the next mayor of New York because he built a constituency among those who are losing out and those who sympathize with them. Politics in the winner-take-all economy don’t have to be extremist and nasty, but they have to grow out of, and speak for, the 99 percent. The pop-up political movements that come so naturally to the plutocrats won’t be enough.