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When potential earnings are stagnant, ambitious people often look to taking a path to success rather than making. We can see this in the decline of market entrepreneurship and dynamism, alongside a rise in political entrepreneurship: costlier campaigns, more think tanks, and a national slouch towards kleptocracy. Instability ensues when more people see the state as a tool of enrichment, or as a rapacious colonizer.

We must resist the government's metamorphosis into a kleptocratic taker-state. Avoid anonymous power, devolve authority to local levels, and cultivate a suspicion of centralization. Focus political efforts on programs that are universally available, which can be transferred to states or localities, and which voters can readily understand. Centralizing schemes claiming to jump-start income growth are likely to fail, even as they raise the stakes of the winner-take-all political game. Neither party truly favors a more decentralized state, thus neither will be a steady ally. The task will fall to committed citizens of many political stripes.

Bottom line: A direct focus on creating a redundant, distributed, and resilient political system built on localism, federalism, transparency, and separated, limited powers is the best course through the tumults of globalization, a flattened media environment, and unsatisfying economic outcomes.

Other voices in the conversation

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North Carolina Sheriff's deputy fatally shoots Black man

A Black man was fatally shot by a North Carolina sheriff's deputy in Elizabeth City, northeast of Raleigh, on Wednesday, igniting protests in the local community.

Details: Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said at a news briefing the State Bureau of Investigation was investigating the shooting of Andrew Brown Jr., which happened about 8:30 a.m as deputies were serving a search warrant.

Pew: Over 80% of Asian adults say violence against them is increasing

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More than 80% of Asian adults say that violence against them is increasing, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The big picture: The survey, conducted April 5-11, comes after the recent shootings in Atlanta in which eight people, including six Asian women were killed, as well as a yearlong spike in hate incidents against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

China's government tied to new hack attacks targeting U.S. government

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The Chinese Communist Party is believed to be responsible for newly found hack attacks on the U.S. government, businesses and American infrastructure, cybersecurity company Mandiant said Wednesday.

Why it matters: This is the third major cybersecurity breach to hit the U.S. in recent months — including two in March blamed on hackers linked to China's government: one targeting 30,000 U.S. victims, including small businesses and local governments, the other hitting Microsoft.