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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I am an optimist. I believe that America's best days are still to come and today's children will live a life far better than their parents and grandparents.
It was passed by Congress, signed by the president and upheld by the Supreme Court. But the individual mandate - a requirement that every American buy the kind of insurance deemed appropriate by the federal government - is being repealed by the American people.
The political community is abuzz about the growing possibility that Republicans might win control of the Senate this November. But little attention has been paid to a larger and more significant trend.
The standard media coverage of President Barack Obama's new budget claimed the proposals included $600 billion of budget cuts over the next decade.
The big story about the federal budget this week was the Republican Party's struggle to deal with raising the debt ceiling. Last year's big budget story was President Barack Obama and the Democrats coming to grips with the so-called sequester, a policy gimmick that modestly slowed the growth of federal spending.
The biggest threat to President Barack Obama's health-care law doesn't come from Republicans in Congress; it comes from people like Stacie Brown.
A theoretical listing of the best states put together by a publication for Washington insiders rates New Hampshire as the best state in the union, and finds that nine of the 10 worst states are in the American South.
Like toddlers who believe they are the center of the universe, many in official Washington whine about the fact the American people don't devote more time to studying politics and talking about the things that matter in our capital city.
Before President Barack Obama's health-care law was passed, Americans were frustrated that insurance companies had too much control over the medical care they received. Now, Americans are frustrated that the government has too much control.
During the holiday season, many reflect on finding the right balance in their lives. As a nation, we're in a season of searching for the right balance between individual freedoms and the role of government.
Journalist Michael Kinsley once defined a political gaffe as when someone "accidentally reveals something truthful about what is going on in his or her head." In other words, a gaffe is when a political player accidentally tells the truth. This appears to be what happened in a recent Washington Post story.
Entering the world of "official Washington" is a bit like the mythical trip Alice took through the looking glass. Everything is upside-down and nonsensical.
For all the confusion it is causing, President Barack Obama's signature legislative accomplishment did not fundamentally change the health-care industry. Both before and after the law passed, the business of providing medical care in America could best be described as a conspiracy by government, insurance companies and medical care providers to keep prices high.
The health care rollout is an enormous political gift that may lead the Republican Party to win control of the Senate in 2014. But, as President Barack Obama's health-care law collapses, the GOP should avoid the temptation to promote its own top-down solution as an alternative.