Matt Miller on Finding the Best Ideas From Abroad
Matt Miller is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress; a contributing editor at Fortune; and the host of "Left, Right & Center," public radio's popular week-in-review program. Miller's first book, The Two Percent Solution: Fixing America's Problems In Ways Liberals And Conservatives Can Love, was published in 2003, and was a Los Angeles Times bestseller. His latest book, The Tyranny Of Dead Ideas, was published by Henry Holt/Times Books in January 2009. Miller served as Senior Advisor to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1993 to 1995. He lives with his family in Los Angeles.
Question: Will foreign success stories become a larger part of American policy making?
Miller: One of the ideas that I call the destined ideas that are going to come to the fore in the next decade is the idea that only lessons from abroad can save American ideals, and let me throw out a few. Denmark is an interesting model where business, labor and government have essentially come together and created a model that they call “flexsecurity” which means flexible labor markets which is like what the US has always had, meaning you don’t have the kind of rigid restrictions on firing that made companies very weary to hire. That’s one of the reasons you have higher unemployment in Europe and you have a real resistance to change among the labor force with Denmark has sort of reached the consensus on is yes. You know, on a modern global economy, industries are going to change. The creative destruction of capitalism is going to do some destruction. We don’t want to hold that back because otherwise we’ll really end up, you know, in the dark ages in our economy. But we need to provide workers the security that reasonable people expect in a modern nation even as we go through these changes so they have more generous retraining programs, unemployment insurance, you know, a set of policies that means that labor is often at the table saying we need to offshore, we need to outsource more of these low value added jobs and make sure that we’re focused on the higher paying, higher value added jobs. It’s only that model where you’re assuring some security even amidst change that you can get labor and management with government working together like this and I think there are lessons in that for us.
The author says overseas ideas will inevitably influence the United States moving forward.