The Public Interest

An industrial policy of the right

Robert B. Reich

Fall 1983

INDUSTRIAL policy has become something of a political Rorschach test. The term somehow summons each person’s fondest hopes or direst fears. Direct evidence of this phenomenon is to be found in the last issue of The Public Interest, in which Professor Amitai Etzioni casts a caricature of Japan’s “MITI” and then proceeds to show why such a straw man could not (and should not) survive in the United States; and George Gilder claims that industrial policy is at best no more than supplyside economics in rather perverse disguise.1 Lost in this ideological shuffle are the facts about what America’s actual industrial policy is coming to look like, and an explanation of the central questions it raises for our republic.

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