This time of year, my little neighborhood becomes an obstacle course.
I live on an island (it’s not as exotic as it sounds, but still pretty cool), with about 1,000 homes and a small downtown. Because the place has limited space and is overwhelmingly residential, whenever the locals do something en masse it clogs up traffic.
This happens during parades, fireworks, and even when good weather brings out cyclists and runners. It gets especially bad just before Christmas. Not because we’re all out shopping, but because we’ve already shopped – online.
So we spend three weeks weaving around and dodging all the delivery service trucks and golf carts that assist in high-volume residential areas this time of year, as they bring packages to our doors.
It’s enough to drive you crazy! No pun intended.
But this year, I’m not upset, or even annoyed, with the traffic inhibitors. Instead, I’m calm… if not downright happy.
Yes, they still get in my way and drive their carts like blind idiots with a death wish, but my focus is elsewhere. I’m still thinking about the gifts I’ve already received, instead of focusing on deliveries to my door.
In addition to the big gifts that make the Top 10 list in my nightly prayers (health, family, etc.), this year I can add social and political change. Before you get worried, I’m not fist-bumping strangers in “Make America Great Again” ball caps or high-fiving Brits that gave Europe the big heave-ho.
But I am excited that my country, as well as many other nations, is hungry for change…
I can’t help but think that, when it comes to economic policy, if we can break the sclerotic hold of politics that has gripped the Western world for decades, it will lead to a better tomorrow. Not just for me, but for generations to come.
For too long we’ve been held hostage by the idea that big government programs have somehow saved us from ourselves, and nudged us in the “right” direction.
We’ve been told that creeping regulatory burdens and increasing capital controls help everyone, even as we spend thousands of dollars every year on bureaucratic paperwork (tax forms, HR documentation, environmental compliance, etc.) and watch our savings accounts earn a pittance.
Voters around the world are saying the same thing with their ballots: “For goodness sake, stop helping me!” Hopefully, we’ll take back some control, and put responsibility back where it belongs – in the hands of the individual.
To be sure, many people across the globe are upset by the changes, but that, too, is reason for hope.
People are finally engaged. When we get together with people we love and respect – like co-workers, friends, and family (Hi, Aunt June!) – that disagree, we can drill down to the ideas that have divided us for too long, looking for some common ground. Hopefully this sort of conversation will happen away from yelling protests both in the streets and on television.
I’m not pushing to get rid of every environmental policy or workplace regulation, just as I’m not suggesting we eliminate tax enforcement or monetary policy.
Instead, I’m hopeful we’re on the cusp of unwinding some of the more egregious, overreaching governmental steps of the last 25 years, and putting more control in local hands. Let local officials make decisions… and then hold them accountable.
We can teach our kids through example that they get to make their own choices, and must live with the consequences.
Britain can leave the European Union, and must deal with the headaches of trade and border control. States in the U.S. can operate independent social programs through block grants, and must answer to their constituents on the results.
I’m not blind to the risks. I don’t think every outcome will be positive, or that changes will come quickly.
Western democracies have spent years painting themselves into a corner as their economies suffered with low growth and stagnation. Unwinding the many policies and programs that staved off the necessary adjustments, like credit contraction, that will lead to stronger future growth will take time… and potentially cause some pain along the way.
But in the end, we’ll be the better for it, as will the Brits, and a host of others.
So, as I consider Christmas, just a few days away, I have even more to be thankful for this year. In addition to sharing time, gifts, and meals with the people closest to me, I can share ideas about the changes that lie ahead, and how the new political landscape offers opportunities for growth that seemed unlikely just a few short months ago.
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