During the 20th century, Americans were better educated than the citizens of any other power. Since 1970, that lead has been forfeited, producing inequality and wage stagnation. To compete, the U.S. will require a series of human capital initiatives.
These days, if you give me a typical Krugman column and a typical Brooks column, the former is less likely to set me off.
We may very well be at the threshold of an era of major government initiatives. However, a lot of what's on the plate consists of problems caused by past initiatives. Fannie and Freddie are exhibit A. Medicare is exhibit B.
A major business has to be pretty careful about limiting its scope. The attention of senior management is scarce. If they don't pay attention to something, it can go off the rails. So they only have time for one or two major initiatives a year, while they try to keep ongoing processes on track.
Government is even harder to manage than business. But someone like Brooks can write as if government has an infinite management capacity.
My thinking is that the management capacity of the government in Washington is already way over-taxed, to put it mildly. If our political leaders were business executives trying to hold onto their sanity, they would be doing everything possible to offload responsibilities to the private sector and to other layers of government, so that they could focus on just a few things that they might do well.