The Corner

Readings For The New Year

It’s been a rough couple of months for conservatives, and much of January will be excruciating, as left-wing politicans and commentators use the occasion of an historic transfer of power to savage free-market economics and conservative politics.

My advice? Focus on longer-term matters, prepare for the coming policy battles, and renew your understanding and appreciation for a conservativism that combines the politics of liberty, virtue, and vigilance.

Some recent work from the nation’s leading think tanks may be of assistance:

• The Cato Institute’s Jim Powell explains why Roosevelt’s New Deal did not rescue the country from depression and why tax relief is a better fiscal response to recession than federal infrastructure spending. That’s not to say, by the way, that there isn’t a strong case for additional investment in valuable transportation and energy assets — only that their value will come in the form of faster and more reliable transmission of people, freight, and power over time, not pump-priming.

• The Reason Foundation offers a wide-ranging and helpful briefing on Bailout Nation, including a lengthy account of the origins of the financial meltdown, lessons from Japan’s “lost decade,” and a warning against regulatory overreaction.

• Israel Ortega of the Heritage Foundation argues that while the country’s immediate economic woes are worrisome, the effects of our educational system as at least as deserving of the term “crisis.” A key obstacle to reform is, of course, the education establishment itself. “Like other unions,” he writes, “the teachers’ unions exist to protect their more than 4 million members by fighting for increased salaries and benefits. But … what’s good for teachers is not necessarily good for our children enrolled in the public-school system.”

• This piece is a couple of months old, but still highly recommended. The Manhattan Institute’s Peter Huber outlines the case for building out a 21st century electrical grid. Most of the political debate about energy centers on generation. Transmission issues are critically important.

• In a major victory against local corporate welfare, the Goldwater Institute’s litigation arm just got a unanimous decision from Arizona’s appeals court striking down a $97 million gift from the City of Phoenix to a shopping-mall developer. Clint Bolick & Co. strike again.

• In a release from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Richard Morrison excoriates the president-elect for his fringe choices for key science posts in the new administration.

John Hood is a syndicated columnist and the president of the John William Pope Foundation, a North Carolina–based grantmaker.

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