Our Bipartisan Elite Is Stuck in the ’90s

And other problems of the ‘mainstreamers’

European mainstreamers want more leadership (and money) for their projects from Germany. And they are getting as annoyed at the deals they struck with the peripheries as the peripheries are getting with their leadership. Irish tax rates, once thought to have reversed two centuries of underperformance, now irritate them. The full voting rights of “New Europe” grate: We are paying Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary, so why can’t they get with the program?

American mainstreamers are dominated by an America that existed 40 years ago. There are a few people of older WASP stock hanging about these kinds of meetings. But there is almost nobody from the post-1965 wave of immigration in their ranks.

.. Their desire for quantifiable studies on social issues is also partly explained by the felt deficiencies of their liberal education. They don’t trust their judgment, and so they overrely on research. Younger American mainstreamers are almost universally products of just a handful of colleges.

.. Mainstreamers see inequality primarily as a threat to the consent for continued mainstream rule. If it gets too bad, mainstreamers worry, the people will throw the mainstream out and enact reforms that hurt overall prosperity. But they might also notice that a lack of social mobility secures mediocrities in their class and prohibits outstanding talent from entering into it.

.. Also, their lack of insider knowledge makes them less valuable in the market. Nearly every mainstreamer who leaves public office and the think-tank world joins or starts a firm that manages capital or consults with firms that do. Knowing what the executive branch really thinks is part of their market advantage.

.. They believe they are working ceaselessly for the betterment of the world and deserve the rewards.