During the last couple of years we have seen some very significant developments around the world. First, a housing bubble in the U.S. caused a global financial crisis, then a sovereign debt crisis in Europe threatened the very viability of the EU, and now a string of people revolutions in the Middle East is redefining the region and the world.
All these developments have some kind of policy explanation. In the U.S., it was low interest rates and lack of financial regulations, in the Europe it was low taxation and a welfare state out of control, and in the Arab world it was food prices and the increasing economic disparity of the people.
I am not here to argue about what would have been the right policies for each situation. It is my understanding that policy choices are the result of the governance process in place – that policies reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the system of governance. In the U.S. deregulation of the financial sector is consistent with a system of governance designed to deliver limited government; in the EU too much government led to too much debt; and in the Arab world, the absence of legitimate governments led to corruption and exploitation of the people by the elite.
I am here to argue that the process and the form of governance does mater – that the rules by which a society is regulated and governed contribute immensely to the policies adopted and their success or failure. And, it is my belief that the U.S. system of governance, despite its many flaws and shortcomings, has more useful lessons to offer to the people of the Middle East and others around the world, when considering how to restructure their governments.
Here in the U.S., one consequence of the 2008/2009 global financial crisis was a renewed debate on the nature and role of government in our everyday life. The ‘Tea Party Movement’, confused and misguided as it might be, reflects an unequivocal rejection of government as a legitimate agent for leadership, regulation and general problem solving catalyst.
People are not only questioning the size of government, but its very role. Americans are outraged about the size of the federal debt, the huge government bailouts of national banks and the auto-industry, and they are even questioning the government’s ability to respond to natural disasters (hurricane Katrina), prevent terrorist attacks and regulate the operations of off-shore drilling. People now more than ever, even here in the U.S., have legitimate reasons to question whether their government can truly protect them.
I believe, now more than ever, that government matters – and that the right form of government can both protect the people and facilitate economic growth and prosperity. Through this blog, I intend to explore and probe the U.S. system of governance, and propose suggestions for constitutional reforms both in the U.S. and around the world.