Democrats and Republicans: Unite around abundance
Inflation may finally be starting to wane, but there is no clear end in sight to the economic turmoil that Americans have experienced for nearly three years. In a recent survey , more than two-thirds of economists predicted a recession in 2023. Layoffs would follow. A common thread runs through these economic issues: scarcity.
Lawmakers in the new Congress and state legislatures have a chance to help a struggling public recover by uniting around a bipartisan abundance agenda centered on laws and regulations that constrain the supply of key goods and services.
Abundance has an obvious economic element. People need to be able to earn a living and buy the material goods necessary for their daily existence while earning enough to save for retirement. They also need reliable access to key commodities, from baby formula to the microchips that power every modern electronic device.
Abundance is also a moral imperative. We want a just society that cares for the least well-off, is fair, and protects our freedom. Societies facing scarcity are vulnerable to infighting over limited resources. These are fights that the poor are guaranteed to lose. Abundant societies promote fairness by rewarding those who innovate and create value. Abundance also promotes and is fueled by freedom. When we allow people the opportunity to unleash their unique human potential, we all benefit.
What would a bipartisan abundance agenda look like? Consider three issues where the Left and Right share both values and goals: reliable energy, affordable housing, and new job creation.
Everything in the modern economy starts with energy. The late economist Julian Simon famously considered energy the “master resource” because it is the key to unlocking so many other opportunities. Unfortunately, many current U.S. policies restrict domestic energy exploration and production, whether it be nuclear reactors, wind and solar installations, or natural gas pipelines. Laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act make it difficult to build the large industrial facilities a prosperous nation needs due to a perennial “not in my backyard” approach. Depending on uncertain foreign supplies — as we have seen recently in Western Europe — would be a strategic mistake.
Housing is another area in dire need of a revamp. Restrictive zoning and overly prescriptive building codes have throttled home building for decades, including in many of our most desirable cities. It’s basic economics: Artificially restricting supply in an environment of increasing demand inevitably raises prices. The price per square foot of new single-family homes, even after adjusting for inflation, has increased almost 25% since 1980 — a period when, if anything, new technologies and building materials should have yielded significant cost savings, as they have with many other consumer goods.
Read the full article on the Washington Examiner.