On the Spot: Michael Lind

Author, 'Land of Promise'

April 18, 2012

Michael Lind sees politics and economics not as right vs. left, but as pro-business Hamiltonians vs. overly regulatory Jeffersonians. In his new book, “Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States,” Lind, a Salon columnist and a policy director at the New America Foundation, argues that the greatest technological innovations and economic leaps happen under Hamiltonian leadership.

How do Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians pertain to today’s political climate?
The federal government has always played a major role in promoting innovation and has been a major customer for new technologies. That is a lesson that goes against the conventional wisdom of today’s anti-business left and anti-government right.

How long did you work on this book?
I feel as though I’ve been working on it for about 200 years, which is the period in American history that it covers. It’s actually taken 20 years and three drafts.

 How did writing it change your understanding of current technological innovations and political changes?
It’s amazing the kind of things that are going on every day, from nanotech to biotech to rapid prototyping. The problem is, these are infant technologies, and people are impatient. It usually takes 20 or 30 years once a radically disruptive technology is invented to actually be applied on a large scale and transform technology.

 Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW; Sat., 6 p.m., free; 202-364-1919. (Van Ness)
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Stephen M. Deusner | April 18, 2012