I found in Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-first Century... a lack of a clear problem statement, a lack of thorough problem breakdown, no clear target, at best tenuous links between root cause analysis and proposed solutions, and a lack of consensus-building effort around the preferred countermeasure. To be fair, Piketty never intended this book to be a practical problem solving primer. The topic he is addressing, of building a more fair and stable society through greater wealth for a larger number of people, is vitally important for our future. It deserves the best minds and the best approaches to problem solving. However, I am grateful both for the information and ideas presented in the book and for its problem solving flaws, as these flaws serve as a teaching tool for lean learners on how not to do practical problem solving.
I agree with much of what Jon said. One of the big problems with our current government and leadership of our governments is the lack of policies based on evidence. Policies should be experimented with and effective ones expanded and ineffective ones changed or abandoned.
There is a possibility for more of that within essentially our current political and government system. But there are big limits without some serious changes in that system. My guess is they would not have to be legal, but they would have to be huge. Fundamentally politicians and the political parties would have to put the well being of the country ahead of their own pursuit of power and cash.
It is hard to see that as likely given the current parties. And we don't seem to have any desire to vote out those people and put in people that put the well being of the country first. There are lots of ways the system encourages that behavior, still honorable people could stand up to pressures to be corrupted (however relying on that honorable nature of leaders has not proven very effective in human history).
In order to start moving to a more evidence based decision making system fairly fundamental changes are required in who is given power within the system. The current system gives power to those who can gain and wield influence and power. Those who can effectively improve the well being of the country don't gain much say in the current system. Until that dynamic is changed I am skeptical practical improvement methods will gain much sway.
There is a huge amount of room for improvement that has nearly no political ideology behind it. Granted in the current system everything has the political ideology angle emphasized to the hilt. There may well be political disagreements about the methods used but doing things like
- educating our kids
- paving our roads
- we can get medical care that is safe and effective (drug are reliable, experts are knowledgeable, hospitals are operated safely...)
- policing our streets
- providing health care to veterans
- operating our national parks
- ensuring the food we eat is safe (from things like e-coli)
are things 90+% of the population agree we should do well. If we could use evidence based methods to have our government help be sure our society was having our needs met we would be better off. The political decisions about methods are going to get messy in some contentious areas. But we would be much better off if primarily we operated to produce the best results and only allowed politics to take the primary focus when it was really a contentious debate. Now we default to crony capitalism style political maneuvering and only rarely let evidence based methods seek to provide the best results for us.
Related: The estate tax is the tax most aligned with capitalism - The Aim of Modern Day Political Parties is To Scare Donors Into Giving Cash - USA Congress Further Aids Those Giving Them Cash – Risks Economic Calamity Again - "Bring Me Solutions Not Problems (“Having no problems is the biggest problem of all.” – Taiichi Ohno)