The Agenda

NRO’s domestic-policy blog, by Reihan Salam.

Noah Millman on Increasing Productivity


Noah Millman argues that we need to move beyond the supposed debate between “stimulus” and “austerity,” and towards more constructive one over how to best increase productivity:

The argument we need to be having is about how to increase national productivity. That means reducing or eliminating subsidies for uneconomic activity – whether the mortgage interest deduction or agricultural subsidies. That means shifting the tax burden away from income – and especially away from wages – and towards consumption. That means shifting discretionary spending priorities away from defense and towards a sustainable infrastructure. That means shifting spending away from retirees and towards youth – and that, in turn, means getting more value per dollar out of both health-care and education spending (two areas where, I suspect, productivity growth properly measured has actually been negative).

I wrote a short piece for the most recent issue of National Review on increasing productivity in the education sector, drawing heavily on ideas from the brilliant Rick Hess. Broadly speaking, this strikes me as exactly the right debate to have. But as long as one political faction promises “more of everything” with a straight face, it will be very hard for the opposition to find a constructive voice. 


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