American government - at all levels - is losing the legitimacy it needs to function. Or, perhaps, some segments of the government have already lost it.
I am far more pessimistic about our political system than most Americans. At the same time, I am very optimistic about the future of our nation. That may seem like an odd combination to some, but I am optimistic because I recognize that Washington, D.C., does not lead the nation.
In recent weeks, I've written about how the "Bootleggers and Baptists" dynamic corrupts regulatory politics. Bruce Yandle developed this concept decades ago. He observed that Prohibition became reality because Baptists wanted people to stop drinking while the ban on legal alcohol put money in the Bootlegger's pockets. The do-gooders succeeded only because the money-grubbers joined their effort.
I recently highlighted an important book that describes how politics really works. "Bootleggers and Baptists: How Economic Forces and Moral Persuasion Interact to Shape Regulatory Politics," by Adam Smith and Bruce Yandle, showed that prohibition became reality because it appeared to satisfy both Baptists and Bootleggers.
The death of Leonard Nimoy saddened millions of Trekkies around the world (including me). But it wasn't just Trekkies who mourned. In the past month, it has become clear that Mr. Spock - the character Nimoy brought to life - had become a cultural icon extending far beyond the Trek universe.
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It's apparent to anyone willing to look that a wide gap has grown between a Washington/Wall Street political class and the nation they want to rule. Less clear to many is the reason why.
Two-thirds of all federal spending is consumed by just three program areas: Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and National Defense. Because these programs consume most of the budget and are responsible for most of the annual spending increases, there is simply no way to regain control of federal spending without addressing these programs.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has emerged as a serious contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. In response, the Washington Post researched and published a lengthy article on the "mystery" of why Walker dropped out of college.
Recently, while responding to a question about how to get young people involved in politics, President Obama expressed fears that they see politics as a "sideshow in Washington" and should be taught that "government is not something separate from you - it is you."
President Obama's proposed federal budget for 2016 envisions never-ending growth of federal spending.
When gasoline sold at record prices, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said, "I think it's time to say to these people, 'Stop ripping off the American people.'" When the average price of regular gas was close to $4 a gallon, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called for Congress to look into breaking up giant oil companies. The claim was that "Wall Street greed (was) fueling high gas prices."
On Monday, President Obama will unveil his proposed federal budget for 2016. Voters should be warned that virtually all the numbers reported in news coverage of the federal budget will be misleading at best.
This past week, one of the world's most famous and influential men made a major announcement concerning our global future. But you might have missed it because America's national news media was obsessing over President Obama's State of the Union address.
As we enter 2015, the politics of the president's health care law are little changed from last year or the year before, or any year since it was passed. The details change with the calendar, but year after year, the law remains a major drag on President Obama's popularity and legacy.
I love the Thanksgiving holiday weekend as much as anyone. It's great to have family visit and take some time to talk and visit and just be together. There's the added bonus that comes from a warm glow of nostalgia lingering from long-ago Thanksgiving dinners at Nana and Grampa's.
In the wake of the midterm elections, many are now speculating about what will happen to President Obama's health care law with a Republican Senate. However, all the partisan talk misses the point. In America, change does not come from politicians. It comes from the American people and the popular culture.
Little noticed by the Washington press corps is the extent of the Republican State legislative gains in Election 2014. A quick trip to the enormously informative Ballotpedia.org website provides the numbers that the DC reporters overlooked.
Political pundits often miss the forest for the trees, and it's amazing how things look when you pause for a moment to look at the broader context of the 2014 midterm elections. The short-term discussion among political junkies is all about whether Republicans can win control of the Senate and just how many seats they will win.
To understand the lack of enthusiasm most Americans feel about the midterm elections, it's important to recognize a vital distinction between government and community.
It's a little thing, but it bugs me a lot.