Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mitch's Reading List

Brian Howey's recent article features Governor Mitch Daniels and his perspective on the new shape of policy. He looks past left-right, and thinks in terms of stasis-dynamism.

The source of this new outlook? Libertarian Virginia Postrel, former editor of Reason magazine, in her book, "The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress." Interestingly, when I was an MBA student in 2001, I gave copies to fellow students and professors. We had lengthy discussions over coffee.

Governor Daniels is apparently deeply influenced by Postrel's book. From the Howey Report:

“In my view, we have a new politics shaping up in this state,” Daniels explained. “The dividing lines, the fault lines, are not quite the ones we are so familiar with for most of our past. They are not the old categories: the party, left-right ideology, even geography. Those things were all deemed important and I think they are a little less important now. The new fault lines in Indiana politics are between the forces of change and the forces of standing still.”

Gov. Daniels turned to the book by Virginia Postel: “The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress.”

Daniels said that Postel identified reactionaries which she called "stasists," people who are wont to keep things as they are, make few if any changes, and "dynamists," those who are comfortable with change, moving forward, finding new solutions.“

She made a very important point,” Daniels continued. “There are two kinds of reactionaries or stasists. One kind are those who are naturally apprehensive and fearful. And that's a very human thing; we're all a little that way.

“There's another sort of stasist and those are the people who know exactly what they are doing,” Daniels said. “The status quo serves them well. They organize and lobby for it. They form special interests. It puts money in their pockets, it puts power in their brief case. And these folks have very, very specific reasons for opposing change of any kind.”

Libertarians are also part of the fracturing of the old fault lines. Fiscal conservatives used to mean Republicans, but no longer. Daniels may have missed a point when opposing the status quo that exists for its' own sake: Change for its' own sake is no better. Creativity and productivity should not be unduly restrained. Government can employ creativity and greater efficiency, and should, but it should also be restrained as well.

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