You're talking about the marketizing of the public, political realm. I think one of the indicators of that is the declining turnout, the declining percentage of eligible people who bother to vote: 49% in a presidential election last November, the lowest in recent memory. Demonstrating an impressive mastery of a vast range of material, Mr. It's hard to imagine that markets can become even more intellectually in vogue than they have been over the past two decades, which means that they will probably become less so. With its brilliant explanation of how some sectors of the economy require a blend of market, regulation, and social outlay, and a new preface addressing the current global economic crisis, Kuttner's study will play an important role in policy-making for the twenty-first century. These are all straws in the wind.
It's the role of goverment to get these people back into the job market. Now, is there a backlash starting? Leone, president of the Twentieth Century Fund which sponsored Kuttner's book. This is a capitalist society. I'm very much trying to reach a general audience: the kind of people who read The Atlantic, the kind of people who do not have degrees in economics but who worry about the economy and society and who are capable of reading a general, intellectually serious book. And then, finally, I think the labor movement has probably bottomed out, and is beginning something of a comeback. There are cycles of history in which we go through moods where we are more public-minded; we go through moods when we are more private-minded. The solution is not to return to a Dickensian world.
I think the backlash against private-profit-motivated forces trying to regulate healthcare by denying people healthcare because they might get sick, by coming in between the doctor and the patient, is one big straw in the wind. And then, of course, along comes Reagan. Gilder have both been players in national Republican politics for years. I do think that there are some areas where regulated competition is an improvement on the old kind of monopoly franchise regulation. We spend more on health-care than any other country, relative to the size of our total economy.
But people don't think of it as redistribution. One is through the power of ideas and the other is through politics. Bill Bennett, the conservative-culture czar, in November gave a very interesting speech warning about the effect of untrammeled capitalism on culture. They are ''simply virtuosos at the math'' who are willfully ignorant of ''the rich institutional detail of what has actually occurred. But let me ask: How did it all happen? Most economists who study such matters now agree with Kuttner that financial markets are prone to swing from bubble to economy-damaging bust. So the idea of a market existing in some realm that's divorced from civil society, divorced from politics--Robinson Crusoe's island--I think is a very dangerous fantasy.
You remember we used to talk about next summer was going to be the hot summer in the streets, it was going to be trouble in the streets. Examples would be ''The Modern Corporation and Private Property'' 1932 , by Adolf A. And thanks too, to you in the audience. Regulation is a critically important aspect of free market society. Do you agree that there has been such a shift? Right now there's so much cynicism about politics that ordinary people don't bother to vote. Every once in a while someone publishes a book that puts forth a sweeping position on the American economy, and it coincides in some magical way with the arrival of a new political moment; thus the book later appears if you believe that ideas matter in politics to have set the tone in economic policy for an entire historical period.
I think both in intellectual life and in popular frustrations, the pendulum is beginning to swing back. My friend, Paul Wellstone, Minnesota, ran a good Populist campaign; 66 percent of the people turned out to vote in Minnesota. He was a longtime columnist for BusinessWeek, and continues to write columns in the Boston Globe. And so that created an opening for a second romance with laissez faire in the economics profession, in the business community, and among public officials. First of all, the Federal Reserve can take its foot off the brake, let the economy grow faster, and let the unemployment rate in the private sector come down. There's a whole spectrum of opinion, of course, but the center of gravity is much further to the right on this issue than it was twenty years ago.
But we need a degree of social compassion and social solidarity. And let me tick off some of them. And I think the pendulum lately has swung too far in the direction of thinking that everybody is really an entrepreneur and everybody only has financial motivations, commercial motivations, at heart. Then you've got the more extreme people who are almost absolutist libertarians. So if you give people something to vote for, people become energized politically. How do you feel about its reception thus far? Moreover, markets generate problems -- pollution, dangerous products, economic disasters like bank failures -- so they need to be regulated. What it represents, instead, is Mr.
And I also, finally, think that the attempt by Gingrich and company, when they came in after the 1994 election, to think that all you had to do was get rid of the regulatory agencies and competition would naturally flourish, that was belied by the experience. It used to be that there was a kind of bond, a kind of implicit social compact between the company and the individual. A secondary set of villains consists of liberals who, especially during the Carter Administration, embraced the cause of deregulation: people like Senator Edward M. And that creates a little bit of space in which people like me can reclaim some yardage. So that the multifaceted nature of human beings is reflected in the need for a multifaceted society which is a polity, which is civic life, which is social life, cultural life; not just market life. If the mythical man from Mars were to come down and go back and report, what would he report? One now frequently hears arguments, sometimes from corporate executives, that maximizing shareholder value is a muddle-headed and counterproductive aim for corporations. Or was that not the concern? What is the counterweight to the ideology of unfettered laissez faire? And you can look at a graph of declining fatalities in civil aviation, and you have a nice, steady decline to about 1978, the year of deregulation, and then it sort of plateaus.
The conclusion he draws from this is that we should have got the situation under more complete regulatory control, rather than that such control can be a chimera. It needs government help to make those investments, but its own ideology won't allow it either to recognize the need for those investments or to request government help. Kuttner pushing indefatigably leftward on the needle between the two, by presenting a massive compilation of evidence in favor of the government side. Most Americans now really do seem to want less of a free market in health care rather than more. If so, are you Luther nailing your theses to the church door? And one can do that and still leave an enormous realm for private getting and spending, private enrichment. Now, that requires some subsidy.