As the US government has grown in size and scope over the last several decades, Americans’ confidence and approval of their government has fallen. The democratic process has led to an increase in deficits and angst, leading the West to seek a viable alternative to democracy. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge explore this dynamic in their new book, “The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State,” which they discussed at AEI on Tuesday evening.
Though Mickelthwait and Wooldridge view the current social welfare state as untenable in the long run, they do not believe that the West will, or needs to, follow the authoritarian and meritocratic examples of China and Singapore. Instead, they envision a fourth revolution in which the function of the state will have a purpose and goals that are more focused, and improvements in technology will allow state services to be delivered more efficiently and effectively. In the end, they argued, democracies will need to tighten their focus; develop some institutions to promote long-term planning over, as Wooldridge termed the current tumult in Western governments, short-term “democratic distemper”; and become smaller and better ordered.
Has political dysfunction weakened America to the point where all it can hope for is a passably managed decline? Is Europe’s decay inevitable? Will Chinese technocrats lord over all of humanity by the year 2039?
In “The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State,” John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of The Economist, and Adrian Wooldridge, managing editor of The Economist, answer these questions in an insightful and thought-provoking way. During this book forum, the authors will explain why — after three revolutions have created the nation state, liberal state, and welfare state — the time is ripe for the completion of the fourth revolution, which will finally create the smaller, more focused, and more efficient government envisioned by Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher.
Michael R. Strain, AEI
John Micklethwait, The Economist
Adrian Wooldridge, The Economist
Stan Veuger, AEI
Adjournment and Reception
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John Micklethwait is the editor in chief of The Economist. He worked as a banker at Chase Manhattan between 1985 and 1987, before joining The Economist as a finance correspondent in 1987. His previous roles at The Economist include being the newspaper’s business editor and US editor. He has appeared on radio and television around the world and coauthored, with Adrian Wooldridge, also a journalist at The Economist, five books: “The Witch Doctors: Making Sense of the Management Gurus” (Crown Business, 1996), “A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalization” (Crown Business, 2000), “The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea” (Modern Library, 2003), “The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America” (Penguin, 2005), and “God is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World” (Penguin, 2009). He was named Editors’ Editor by the British Society of Magazine Editors in 2010. He is a trustee of the British Museum.
Michael R. Strain is a resident scholar at AEI. His academic research papers and policy papers study labor economics, applied microeconomics, and public finance. His work has appeared in the Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking; Tax Notes; and National Review, among other publications. Before joining AEI, he was the manager of the New York Census Research Data Center and an economist with the Center for Economic Studies at the US Census Bureau. Previously, he was a member of the research group of Census’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Program and worked in the macroeconomics research group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Stan Veuger is a resident scholar at AEI. His academic research focuses on political economy and applied microeconomics, and has been published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics. He writes frequently for popular audiences on a variety of topics, including policy uncertainty, Obamacare, and tax policy. He is a regular contributor to US News and World Report and writes frequently for AEIdeas, AEI’s policy blog. Before joining AEI, Veuger was a teaching fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard College, and Universitat Pompeu Fabra. He is a board member of the Netherland-American Foundation in Washington, DC, and was a National Review Institute Washington Fellow.
Adrian Wooldridge is The Economist’s management editor and writes its Schumpeter column. He was previously based in Washington, DC, as the Washington bureau chief, where he also wrote the Lexington column. He was previously The Economist’s West Coast correspondent, management correspondent, and Britain correspondent. He is the coauthor of “The Witch Doctors: Making Sense of the Management Gurus” (Crown Business, 1996), “A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalization” (Crown Business, 2000), “The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea” (Modern Library, 2003), “The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America” (Penguin, 2005), and “God is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World” (Penguin, 2009).