Dispatches > The Buzz


Issue: "Politics Post 9/11," Nov. 17, 2001

WE GOT NEXT: Never mind the "New Economy." Peter Drucker says to watch for the "Next Society." The godfather of modern management writes in The Economist that radical changes are coming to the world that will make civilization far different from the late 20th century. What's happening? The older population is increasing greatly and living longer, while the number of young people is shrinking. Longer lifespans mean later retirement, and skilled older people will offer all sorts of services (like temporary help and consulting) to businesses. As a result, many companies will see more and more important jobs taken by people who are not traditional full-time employees. Also, Mr. Drucker predicts the continued emergence of a "knowledge society." An increasingly competitive, upwardly mobile, multinational workforce of highly educated, technically competent people will become dominant in society. Meanwhile, what he calls "the decline of manufacturing" will cause national governments and trading blocks (like NAFTA, the EU, etc.) to become more protectionist in practical policy while they loudly trumpet the ideal of free trade. Mr. Drucker concludes that this shift will force corporate managers to rethink how their businesses operate. PORK SECURITY: Is flag-waving good if it masks a hidden agenda? Columnist Doug Bandow writes that lobbyists have wrapped numerous pork-barrel projects in the flag to make them more palatable. Among the projects: $70 billion in grants to Amtrak, $4 billion for travel agents, and the $170 billion farm subsidy bill named the "Farm Security Act." "Rescuers were still searching for bodies from the smoldering rubble when lobbyists descended upon Washington," Mr. Bandow remarks. Federal spending was already out of control; Mr. Bandow cited National Taxpayers Union figures that it has risen 10 times faster than inflation since 1995. "As both the public and private sectors retool to address the security challenge," he argues, "Americans cannot afford frivolous spending that only enriches favored political interests." LEFT BEHIND: The overseas war has ignited a culture war on the left. Pro- and anti-militarists are fighting a fierce battle for the moral high ground. Columnist Michael Kelly called on the "responsible left" to fight the pacifists on the "loony left." His comrades must separate "from the dilettantes of the English Department" and "fashion a grown-up politics." Mr. Kelly argues that lefties have had few causes in recent years. In the late 1990s, anti-globalism became the focus of the movement, and the left's old dreams of worker revolutions were revived. Then Sept. 11 came and Mr. Kelly says the war split liberals between idealists and realists. The new anti-war movement drives ordinary people away from the left, he concludes, because it treats America as a haven of oppression and hate. "Working men will not march in the army of the flag-burners," writes Mr. Kelly. "They will march in the army that is setting out to kill the people who killed so many of their union brothers in the fire and police departments of New York City." DECONSTRUCTING BRITAIN: Liberalism destroys society. Charles Murray takes a fresh look at that thesis with an article about the British underclass in The Public Interest. He decries the decline of a nation that was once the beacon of civilization. The country no longer cares about the traditional family and therefore is less and less able to socialize its young people into productive grown-ups. "England is just another high-crime industrialized country," he said. Mr. Murray points to rising social ills familiar to Americans: family breakdown, rampant illegitimacy, and increased violent crime. What makes matters worse is that more young men are simply dropping out of the workforce; he said that a frighteningly high 31.2 percent of men between age 18 and 24 in 1999 were unemployed. Mr. Murray says the future is bleak because few in Britain want serious changes. The lessons of previous ages are simply being ignored. "I believe the problems of the underclass are driven by the breakdown in socialization of the young, which in turn is driven by the breakdown of the family," he writes. "But England does not have a government ... that is even willing to say that the family, traditionally defined, is crucially important, let alone act on that premise."

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