The spring issue of National Affairs, the best public policy quarterly on the scene, came out today.
Editor Yuval Levin, whom we interviewed here in a widely read Q&A, asks in the National Affairs spring issue what will replace the welfare state. His thesis is that the welfare state as we know it is broken, is failing to serve America as originally intended, and can only be reformed if conservatives come up with a vision.
This passage will whet your appetite:
Our attachment to the social-democratic vision means that we tend to equate its exhaustion with our own exhaustion, and so to fall into a most un-American melancholy. On the left, fear of decline is now answered only with false hope that the dream may yet be saved through clever tinkering at the edges. On the right, the coming collapse of the liberal welfare state brings calls for austerity — for less of the same — which only highlight the degree to which conservatives, too, are stuck in the social-democratic mindset.
The fact is that we do not face a choice between the liberal welfare state on one hand and austerity on the other. Those are two sides of the same coin: Austerity and decline are what will come if we do not reform the welfare state. The choice we face is between that combination and a different approach to balancing our society's deepest aspirations. America still has a little time to find such an alternative. Our moment of reckoning is coming, but it is not yet here. We have perhaps a decade in which to avert it and to foster again the preconditions for growth and opportunity without forcing a great disruption in the lives of millions, if we start now.
Levin walks the reader through a history of how we got to where we are and sketches out the kinds of reforms we'll need to reorient the role of government in our lives, in our society. Read the whole thing here.
Among the other quality essays, Josh Barro looks at how to fix the states' coming pension budget disaster, John Taylor looks at how increasing micro-management of monetary and fiscal policy has taken us in the wrong direction, and Tevi Troy takes a look at the troubled confirmation process that makes governing so challenging these days.