This election year, there is a fundamental question about the economy sitting before us. Neither major political party seems keen on answering the question directly, but it will likely shape the achievements and even the aspirations of generations to come and could determine if we can unite as a common people or continue to fracture.
The question comes down to this: Do we believe that all people can and should be the author of their own success, of their own version of that dream that seems uniquely American?
The simplicity of the question obscures the need for compassion, for recognizing that some people need help in breaking free from barriers in life. Those barriers are sometimes imposed by others, and sometimes they stem from personal mistakes. But if society is to function, it also needs to ensure that every person has the opportunity to break free.
To say, as this newspaper does, that each of us can and should determine our own fate is also to conclude that economic policy should be designed to empower each person to reach his or her full potential. To say that, yes, people can and should be trusted to drive the outcomes of their own lives […]
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