Saturday, July 13, 2019

Toward a New Sectorism — A Way to Rebalance Our System and Its Politics: #1

I’m aiming to draft a new paper under the above title. It should be easy enough to finish, but most everything these days is proving more difficult than I anticipate. What would help spur me onward are comments that aim to clarify/improve statements I make, or that point me to additional source materials I’ve missed along the way.

What I like about the sectorism concept is that it may enable me to deploy TIMN and my ideas about quadriformism without sounding too theoretical, jargony and abstract. Or so I hope.

Here’s my lead-off section, the first of maybe 5-7 sections:


Every day I’m told our society, our system, has two sectors: the public sector and the private sector — the former referring to government and its agencies, the latter to the market system and its businesses. I’m also told that one sector or the other, or both in partnership, say as a public-private hybrid, offers the best way to deal with this or that domestic policy problem.

Our politicians, policymakers, and media commentators constantly rely on this public-private framework when they talk about fixing America’s health, education, childcare, housing, welfare, infrastructure, energy, communications, and environmental issues. Some proposals call for broader government programs; others urge more privatization; a few recommend improving public-private collaboration.

Meanwhile, our society has become so tribalized that Democrats and others on the Left have become overly identified with public-sector solutions, Republicans and others on the Right with private-sector solutions. Political tribalism has made it all the more difficult to agree on mixed public-private solutions. Yet all sides continue to rely on this binary framework — they’re quite unable to see beyond it.

Indeed, so much effort goes into upholding this binary view, especially among libertarian conservatives, I’ve even seen it argued that “the market” means more than just private business — it extends to all that revolves around individual choice and enterprise: family, religion, philanthropy, voluntary activities (Tucker, 2019). What a gross expansion of the market concept!? What an erroneous way to view civil society, ideologically absorbing it into the market realm!? But that’s what can happen when binary side-taking becomes an entrenched feature of partisan political dialogue.

Not even a sensible corrective effort by libertarian-conservative voices at the Niskanen Center (Brink Lindsey et al., 2018) has helped much. They’ve tried to tender “a whole new way of thinking about policy … one that sees government and market not as either-or antagonists, but as necessary complements.” Though not new, their argument for a balanced collaborative relationship between government and market does indeed break with conventional libertarian-conservative views that remain intently anti-government and pro-market. Nonetheless, their sensible re-envisioning tends to reinforce rather than move us beyond the binary public-private framework. What’s needed is a radical break from that framework.

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