Policy Today

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January 25, 2022 (Politics)

Can Leopards Change Their Spots?

Human nature and the political process

Crouching leopard looking at the reader

For the past 230 years, two parties have dominated the American political system: today, we call them Democrats and Republicans. We’re also one of the few (if only) countries whose political system flows from the bottom up: that is, authority ascends from local governments to a central government, ultimately resting on the electorate. The men who wrote the Constitution didn’t have much of a choice: in 1787, the states were the only game in town, but this model also fit their belief in a decentralized decision-making process. No king—or central authority—would ever tell Americans what to do. And, the best way to accomplish that was to broadly distribute authority across the political, economic, and social spheres.

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January 25, 2022 (Politics)

We Need a New Tailor

Our 1776 suit no longer fits

Line drawing of two dress forms

Much has changed in 230 years. In 1776, the United States counted 2.5 million people living in 13 colonies scattered along the East coast. We were white, migrated from Europe, and fended for ourselves in a land of unlimited opportunity.

Today (2022), the United States is a very different place. Our population stands at 332 million people spread across a continent and the Pacific Ocean. The economic equality that largely existed in post-Revolutionary America (among whites) has been replaced by a swelling divide between the haves and have-nots. Today, non-Latino whites makes up less than 60% of the population; there are large Latino, Black and Asian minorities. Congress has faltered; the Supreme Court has become a political hotbed; and the President is swamped by the tasks placed upon him.

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January 25, 2022 (Nevada)

NV PERS: A Very Leaky Boat

NV

A recent editorial in Las Vegas’ RJ was headlined, “PERS still $9 billion in hole.” The piece was spot on. Except its authors inadvertently omitted the second half of the headline: “And . . . THE OPTIONS FOR FIXING IT ARE LIMITED.” Nevada PERS is a very leaky ship.

As the editorial points out, CIO Steve Edmundson turned in a stellar performance in FY2021: a 27.3% return on AUM (assets under management). AUM increased to $58.5 billion, up $11.7 billion from the previous year. During my first year (2015) as State Treasurer, total AUM was $34.6 billion. Wow.

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Welcome to Policy Today

“Governments Like Clocks, Go From the Motion Men Give Them”

— William Penn, pre-digital 1700s

4 July, 2021 (Publisher's Letter)

Policy Today is back. We launched the magazine in the summer, 2004, when President George Bush was seeking his second term; and published our last edition in July, 2008, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were battling for the Democratic presidential nomination; and John McCain arose from the pack to win the Republican nomination. The country wasn’t as politically divided as we are now, and PT did its best to focus on the issues as they presented themselves.

Our first issue noted that “governments like clocks go from the motion men give them.” In a time far removed from today’s digital world, William Penn and the country’s early leaders realized that no matter now carefully they balanced competing interests within the Constitutional framework, their success depended upon the officials chosen to lead the new Nation.

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