Excessive Moderates’ Solutions

Jessica’s liveblogging the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting left me painfully aware how problematic excessive moderation is. The CGI panel on global poverty talks about how to look for technological solutions, and how to make trade a little more sustainable.

That reminded me of Feingold’s health care proposal, which reeks of the same inoffensiveness. Feingold says about his health care proposal, “Rather than dictating how states will achieve universal coverage, the bill provides them with the flexibility to choose their own way of covering all their residents, provided they meet specified minimum requirements,” as if there isn’t an existing solution used in every developed country but the US.

Similarly, the CGI panel talks about “adding value for trade,” whatever that means, about techological solutions, and about innovation. Never mind that the UNDP and welfare economists who haven’t drunk the growth-mediated kool-aid have already outlined concrete development ideas: debt relief, removing tariffs and quotas on third-world goods, working to improve infrastructure, urban as opposed to rural development, stopping foisting unregulated capitalism on countries.

On all these issues – global poverty, health care, education, intranational welfare – excessive moderates leave me painfully aware that the main problem isn’t to get people to recognize that things need change, but to get them to recognize that there’s no way around abandoning existing right-wing ideas (neo-liberalism, competition on the insurer level, local control, and workfare respectively).

I’m all for moderation, when it involves pragmatically supporting things that work. The problem with excessive moderates’ solutions is that they’re built not on what works, but on what is inoffensive given current orthodoxy; not on what’s innovative, but on what looks innovative.


2 Responses to Excessive Moderates’ Solutions

  1. Rick says:

    Agree 100%. The only problem is that if you talk about a real solution, there are untold millions ready to believe opposition propaganda to the effect that you are a screaming communist for suggesting such nonsense, and the proposal will go down in flames. Things have to be REALLY bad for folks to consider real alternatives, really bad as in Great Depression bad.

  2. […] Alon Levy points out that moderate solution to problems like global poverty, health care, education, and intranational welfare can’t possibly work. These problems require quite a bit of economic restructuring and a large financial commitment. So moderate fixes to our education system like school uniforms, charter schools, and high-stakes testing can only nibble at the edges of the problem. Throwing an extra few million into foreign aid programs will have a negligible impact on world poverty. You’re either in favor of a substantial change in the way in which these problems are addressed, or you’re not in favor of solving them at all. […]

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