My column this week is a pretty positive one about some of the ideas in Ross' and Reihan's new book. I'll have some tarter observations, fitting the more cut-and-thrust context of the blog, this week. Not that I'm totally uncritical in the column:
To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this. It smacks a little too much of social engineering and the forces it is supposed to counter the past few decades’ cultural shifts regarding sexuality, marriage and family and the economic pressures of an increasingly globalised world are almost certainly too powerful to be held back.
On the other hand, if the policy is designed merely to mitigate some of the ways in which socially crucial behaviour such as good child-rearing are discouraged, it may be worth trying...
If a tax credit can help one parent devote more time to children, the long-term ripple effects on the next generation could be profound. It’s a tricky balance between clumsy government intervention and a helpful government nudge but one perhaps worth putting on the table.
Conservatism, after all, has always been a strange mixture of dismay at social loss and pragmatism in helping to ameliorate it. It is not an ideology; it’s a flexible, pragmatic, modest approach to the necessary evil of government. In one era, big tax cuts, deregulation and a much smaller state may be appropriate. In another time, a different emphasis may be more fitting. This is the Tory genius and it’s encouraging to see conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic grope gradually towards reinvention.