Like the idea about starting conversations Josh. Here's my knee jerk reaction for starters.
"If you take tribes of people, exile them from their homelands and ship them to strange, arid lands, you’re going to produce bad outcomes for generations."
Who's recommending policies that do that?
I do agree with the thought that policies shouldn't eat away at social bonds, but that's pretty subjective. Where one person thinks socialized healthcare can strengthen social bonds, another thinks it is corrosive. I hear what he's saying, but I think it's too simplistic to be constructive. I'd be curious to see what kind of policies he has in mind.
Isn't it the case that because America has such a variegated culture and society that developing policies capable of supporting all the different "social bonds" will be impracticable?
Thank, Brian, this is exactly what I'm hoping for.
"Who's recommending policies that do that?" -I actually think that particular set of policy decisions is a metaphor... and I'll get to why in a minute.
"I do agree with the thought that policies shouldn't eat away at social bonds, but that's pretty subjective." -I agree. What constitutes a social bond, how one goes about nourishing such a bond if you find out what it is, or not harming it on the other hand, are tough questions. I think all that Brooks is saying is: questions a given policy's impact on social bonds ought to be foremost in the minds of public policy makers.
I also happen to think that he's espousing a position of non-intervention on the part of the government in most social issues. Delineating a particular social bond is not as important for policymakers as knowing what makes a society function and working hard to keep government from performing the function that society ought to be responsible for.
That's why I think the "strange, arid lands" list is a metaphor. He's warning against policies that serve to disassociate people from one another and impose bureaucracies in the place of social structure. Not a great metaphor, but I think that's what he's after.