Greg Anrig

Greg Anrig, vice president of programs at The Century Foundation, is the author of The Conservatives Have No Clothes: Why Right-Wing Ideas Keep Failing (John Wiley & Sons).

Recent Articles

False Accusation

Blaming public housing policy for an increase in crime misses the point -- the problem is a lack of true support for equitable housing and economic policy.

"American Murder Mystery" is the sensational headline to a long article in the July-August issue of The Atlantic by Hanna Rosin, in which she blames "one of the most celebrated antipoverty programs of recent decades" for spreading violent crime to the suburbs of Memphis and other cities. Rosin argues that former residents of demolished housing projects who relocated into private apartments and homes using Section 8 rental-housing vouchers are responsible for spikes in crime. Not surprisingly, her article thrilled conservative commentators and bloggers, who crowed "Social Engineers Move Inner City Crime to Suburbs (Developers Delighted!)," "Another Liberal Fantasy Exposed," and "[Liberals] have exported serious crime to previously blissful suburbs." Rosin places far too much responsibility on housing policy for the increase in crime. Other factors related to the local economy were almost certainly more significant. Even within the realm of housing policy, the problem is not Section 8...

The Problem With Conservatism Is Conservatism

Conservatives fail to understand that replacing the government with free-market forces simply hasn't worked in practice.

George Packer's New Yorker piece, "The Fall of Conservatism," and the reactions to it among leading thinkers on the right leave little doubt that the patient under scrutiny is indeed gravely ill. But the wide assortment of sometimes contradictory diagnoses and cures suggested by various despondent conservatives in Packer's article and elsewhere all seem to miss the central problem: The main idea that propelled the conservative movement's political success -- that replacing the government with free-market forces would make everyone better off -- simply hasn't worked in practice. Since the Reagan administration, we have seen time and again that curtailing the government's role to unleash market forces doesn't solve much of anything and in some cases makes things worse. In practice, virtually the only beneficiaries of conservative policies have been the same wealthy families and corporate executives who bankrolled the Republican Party and the conservative movement's elaborate anti-...

Obama Praises the Wrong Conservatives

Barack Obama says Republicans have some good ideas, but he is missing an opportunity to point out the difference between traditional conservative governance and the deliberately destructive agenda of today's conservative movement.

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Barack Obama to "name a hot button issue" where "Republicans have a better idea." Obama replied, "Well, I think there are a whole host of areas where Republicans in some cases may have a better idea." That response echoed his comment back in January that Republicans have been "the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time." Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and much of the liberal blogosphere piled on Obama then for seeming to endorse what Ronald Reagan unleashed. Obama's remarks were clearly intended to reach beyond the Democratic base and demonstrate his openness to policies that appeal to independents and conservatives. But he could have responded much more effectively -- and without alienating members of his own party -- by distinguishing between traditional conservatism's legitimate concerns about the unintended consequences of public policies and the modern right wing's deep-seated hostility toward government. He...

The Return of Newtonian Governance

Run to the bookstore! Newt Gingrich has a new book whose central theme is, unsurprisingly, that "bureaucracy" predisposes government to fail, in contrast to an inherently more effective and efficient private sector.

(AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
In an old Three Stooges short film, Moe, Larry, and Curly are pest exterminators who unleash, on the sly, an assortment of moths, ants, and mice in an elegant mansion. They then proceed to demonstrate their usefulness to the lady of the house, in the midst of her high-society party, by attacking the vermin with recklessly wielded hammers, bug spray, and cats. They destroy a piano. They injure guests. They throw desserts. They make the hostess cry. The arrival of Newt Gingrich's new book, in which he promises to explain how to "create a government that is small, efficient, and responsive," is akin to the Stooges returning to the same home and again offering up their expertise in pest extermination. The man who spearheaded movement conservatism's ongoing era of governance, which continues to produce one debacle after another, is back pushing the same failed mind-set and ideas that he promises will lead to, as his book is titled, Real Change . But it has been the hostile attitude toward...

Who Strangled the FDA?

Charting the phases of the FDA's decline lays bare the responsibility borne by movement conservatism.

It's possible to read all 300-plus horrifying pages of a new Food and Drug Administration subcommittee report describing the agency's slow asphyxiation by prolonged budgetary constraints without learning who is responsible for its decline. Subcommittee member and attorney Peter Barton Hutt, who served as FDA chief counsel during the Nixon and Ford administrations, pointed his finger at the American public in his own supplemental contribution to the report: "It is not a problem caused by partisan politics. The administrations of President Clinton and President Bush have been equally unresponsive to FDA's needs. ... The country cannot withhold the requisite scientific resources from FDA and then complain that the agency is incapable of meeting our expectations." But if everyone is to blame, then no one is. Recent fiascoes like the Melamine-tainted pet food and lead-laced Mattel toys, both imported from China, are sure to continue in the absence of meaningful accountability. The truth is...