How will societies respond to their country’s status Post-Pandemic?  What does history offer us?

The path to the next normal is likely driven by pragmatism. Pragmatism is built on methodical rebuilding processes.Pragmatism is having the view that practical consequences are the criteria of knowledge, meaning and value. 

History shows us that those who have aa willingness to try whatever works, guided by an experimental mindset and commitment to empiricism and measuring results works.  

Pragmatism represents a policymaking model that can and should be applied more widely, not only in times of crisis. 

A pragmatic approach is built around four actions: 1.  the allocate efficiency of markets, 2. the regulatory powers of governments, 3. the innovation of science and technology, and 4. the legitimacy and accountability of civil society.

To be legitimate, a pragmatism recovery plan must start from an assessment of concrete problems will demand radical shifts from the status quo.  The methodical rebuilding progress does not aim at restoring the status quo but making changes that improve the resilience of the society and its people.   

It is about finding the right equilibrium.  An outstanding example of one of the world’s greatest pragmatists is Lee Quan Yew, legendary Prime Minister of Singapore.  He was able to combine vision with action. He was guided by three principles which came to be known as an acronym –MPH – which stands for three words. M for Meritocracy: get the best possible people to join them in government, so the quality of minds of the leaders’ matter, but the quality of the minds of the people (mindset) that are around them is equally important. The second letter, P for pragmatism: Singapore is by far the most pragmatic country in the world. It will try anything without thinking whether this it will fit its ideology. The third letter is H for honesty.  Open Governance and Transparency that guides every action, every policy, every institution’s existence. This, the hardest one and the one which is why most countries fail.

The pragmatic approach requires Problem-Driven Policymaking

A pragmatic approach to economic policymaking starts from defining and prioritizing problems, which will necessarily vary across places and time. This problem-driven strategy focuses on substantive improvements in citizens’ lives.

The second core principle centers around implementation and a commitment to do what works. This is known as an Iterative and Adaptive Approach to Implementation. Rather than presume that we know what will work to address a particular problem in a particular context, policymakers need to continually iterate and adapt in response to evidence. A pragmatic approach adjusts course when necessary. It should be impossible for problems to go unresolved for decades, as has occurred with wage stagnation and carbon emissions, with little demand for a new approach. Only by carefully studying, measuring, and describing the society as it is can policymakers understand if interventions work.

The third principle of pragmatism is Taking Politics Seriously that is to not shy away from questions of power, politics, and the process of policy change. It means that there is a commitment to do what works to address the most salient problems of society.  Pragmatism is not about the left or right, state-led, or market-led.  Politics must be about governance.  Governance structures drive policy outcomes; where governance structures are consistently leading to inadequate policy outcomes, governance reforms may be the most pressing policy priority.  Honesty.  Honesty of governance.  

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