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Our political instability comes from economic challenges that have only grown stronger over recent decades: wage stagnation, an alarming rise of working age people not in the labor force, a major loss of "good jobs" in manufacturing, a failure to pull up substantially the least advantaged workers, increased inequality of various kinds, bankrupt pension funds, and swollen public debt.

The political fashion has been to summon up government remedies for each of these challenges. Such piecemeal intervention, however, may please constituencies but not much improve matters. In fact, proposals to step up economic corporatism and socialism, to institute a universal basic income and enact huge increases in the national minimum wage, would have devastating effects on the country.

These challenges would not have arisen nor been as acute had we not been suffering a major slowdown of productivity growth since the 1970s.

Bottom line: We must first combat further hemorrhaging of the labor force, job losses, and deaths from opioids, by subsidizing employment of low wage workers. Any complete solution, however, depends on reviving rapid productivity growth. My book Mass Flourishing shows that the rapid growth of our history came from endemic, grassroots innovation. It dissolved many of society's problems. We must work to regain that.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages and flooding.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Pelosi expects “billionaire’s tax” to pay for Biden social spending

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday she expects the chamber to pass the bipartisan infrastructure plan by week’s end, and alternatives to corporate tax hikes and a “billionaires tax” will be used to finance President Biden’s promised expansion to the social safety net.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s comments come as House and Senate leaders try to wrap up a deal. What will get cut — and how the remainder will be paid — are linchpins to a final agreement.