Centrists, Unite!

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This interview originally aired live on April 25, 2013. An edited version was re-aired on August 2, 2013 as part of a special episode of The Brian Lehrer Show. 

Charlie Wheelan, author of Naked Economics and The Centrist Manifesto, says it's time for a third party to move the country beyond gridlock.


The Centrists’ main principles and goals:

  1. Government should do what individuals and businesses cannot do. For example, governments can make markets work better, provide valuable goods and services, and improve on market outcomes when private behavior causes social damage.
  2. Individuals should do what governments cannot (or should not) do. The logic of economics can also determine what we as individuals and private firms can do better on our own. This includes social issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and gun control.
  3. Align policy to create wealth and promote productivity. We can accomplish this by respecting the markets, promoting free trade, investing in human capital, building and maintaining twenty-first-century infrastructure, designing a more efficient tax system, and promoting a new form of labor relations.
  4. Respect the environment as a long-term asset. We live better today because of the environmental foresight of past policymakers like Theodore Roosevelt, and we have a moral obligation to pass a clean environment on to future generations. The most logical way to balance growth and environmental responsibility is to build the price of pollution into the activities that cause it.
  5.  Build an efficient social safety net. Establishing a social safety net is the humane thing to do. This net can also ease the backlash against our capitalist system when it disrupts lives and communities in the process of doing new and better things.
  6.  Restore fiscal sanity. Our government must balance the budget and stop borrowing from the future. We can do this by reforming entitlements like Social Security and fixing health care.
  7. Rebuild international institutions. The institutions developed after World War II, like the United Nations and international monetary system, need updating so they can effectively address twenty-first-century challenges including terrorism, arms trafficking, human trafficking, climate change, nuclear proliferation, international fisheries, border disputes, and human rights violations.
Reprinted courtesy of W. W. Norton & Company, publisher of The Centrist Manifesto.