Busy day, so another quick one. This is Paul Volcker:
What the New President Should Consider, by Paul Volcker, NYRB: [The following is drawn from a lecture given at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City earlier this year. Written before the current election, it addresses in part the winner, whoever he may be.]
... My point here is that we should look ahead. Where is the solid ground upon which to build, to restore some clear sense of national interest and national purpose, to restore confidence in the political process and in government itself?
We don’t simply have a financial problem, a problem of economic balance and structure: we have a more fundamental problem of effective governance.
Virtually every day we read of polls about the president’s popularity, or the ups and downs of the Republican contenders during the recent election. The poll that concerns me is different, and much more challenging.
“Do you trust your government to do the right thing most of the time?” That question has been asked regularly for decades by experienced pollsters. These days only 20 percent or even less say yes. In other words, four out of five Americans don’t instinctively trust our own government to do the “right thing” even half of the time. That’s not a platform upon which a great democracy can be sustained.
I know we have been witnessing a large ideological debate. Much of that is beyond the concerns of financial or economic policy. But I also know that the political divide is too often put as “big government” versus “small government.” That particular argument may be—probably should be—endless. After all, it started back at the beginning of the republic, Jefferson against Hamilton, on and on. But can we not agree on some basic points of departure?
Government is, after all, necessary. What we want is effective government, worthy of instinctive trust. I have long been concerned that our particular governments—large or small, federal, state, and local—are not consistently administered and managed as well as they should be, and can be. ...