Wednesday, January 15, 2014

America’s Social Democratic Future. By Lane Kenworthy.

America’s Social Democratic Future. By Lane Kenworthy. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 93, No. 1 (January/February 2014).


The Arc of Policy Is Long But Bends Toward Justice.

Perhaps what is most important to note about the United States’ social democratic future is that it will not look dramatically different from the present day. The United States will not become a progressive utopia; rather, it will become a better version of its current self.
A larger share of adults will be employed, although for many, the workweek will be shorter and there will be more vacation days and holidays. Nearly all jobs will be in the service sector, especially teaching, advising, instructing, organizing, aiding, nursing, monitoring, and transporting; only around five percent will be in manufacturing or agriculture. Most Americans will change jobs and even careers more frequently than they do today. More Americans will work in jobs with low pay, will lose a job more than once during their careers, and will reach retirement age with little savings. Families, community organizations, and labor unions might grow even weaker than they are now.
But by filling in the gaps in the public safety net, the federal government will improve economic security, equal opportunity, and shared prosperity for most Americans in spite of these changes. A social democratic America will be a society with greater economic security and fairness. Its economy will be flexible, dynamic, and innovative. Employment will be high. Liberty will be abundant. Balancing work and family will be easier. Americans will pay higher taxes than they currently do, but the sacrifice will be worth it, because they will receive a lot in return.
The United States has come a long way on the road to becoming a good society, but it still has further to travel. Happily, its history and the experiences of other rich nations show the way forward. One reason the United States is a much better country today than it was a century ago is that the federal government does more to ensure economic security, equal opportunity, and shared prosperity. In the future, it will do more still, and the country will be better for it.