Tuesday, September 8, 2009

David Brooks gets something right

David Brooks writing in today's New York Times hits the nail on the head. He is talking about a new quarterly magazine called National Affairs devoted to tackling public policy questions in a rational way. He makes two great points in his piece:
...Can the state do anything to effectively promote virtuous behavior? Because when you get into the core problems, whether in Washington, California or on Wall Street, you keep seeing the same moral deficiencies: self-indulgence, irresponsibility and imprudence.
In essence, the problem is human nature and whether or not state action can modify it.
[Ron Haskins] points out that the surest way to achieve mobility is still the same: get married, get a degree, hold on to a job. “Poverty in America is a function of culture and behavior at least as much as of entrenched injustice,” he writes. But how does government alter culture?
All public policy needs to be based on what people are versus what they ought to be. Government probably cannot change human nature, but it can create environments and incentives for positive cultures to emerge. It's called capitalism.


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