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Winter 2021 / Volume V, Number 4
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Finance, Technology, and Development

Scale-Up Nation: The Role of IP-Transfer Restrictions in Israel’s Industrial Policy

Industrial policy is, once again, back on the political agenda. Not long ago considered “a policy that should not be named,” or a “phrase that one did not utter in polite company,” industrial policy is currently being heralded as the preferred economic policy of both advanced and developing nations. Indeed, since the great financial crisis of 2008, there is a growing worldwide consensus that society’s most formidable challenges—from adverse climate change to widening economic inequal­ity—cannot be addressed by market forces alone. This trend has only accelerated since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the United States, the Senate recently approved a $250 billion industrial policy bill, the “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act…

The Reshoring Imperative

The Covid-19 pandemic brought tragedy and disruption to America. But it has also provided another stark warning concern­ing the country’s disastrous overreliance on overseas production. It has demon­strated that without a strong, self-reliant industrial base, this country’s ability to forge a healthy, prosperous future—and even its ability to defend itself against foreign enemies—will be severely compromised. The fact that the world’s largest, and theoretically most advanced, economy could not provide…

Have I Got a Bridge to Sell You: The Limitations of Econ 101

On what surely was a brisk fall day in November 2017, two professors from the Columbia Business School crossed the his­toric Mill Creek Park Bridge in Youngstown, Ohio, and “remarked about what a useful and attractive connector it was for the city.” They had other bridges on their mind as they walked, though: “economic bridges for Youngstown and similar communities,” the professors mused, might “carry them to renewed opportunity…

Realistic Environmental Policy

The Geopolitics of Cobalt

The name “cobalt” comes from the German word kobold, which translates as “goblin” or “evil spirit.” When sixteenth-century miners in Saxony discovered the metal, they thought they had stumbled upon silver, yet it was later revealed that the ores were poor in metals that were known at the time. Upon smelting, the ore (where cobalt…

American Energy, Chinese Ambition, and Climate Realism

World leaders recently gathered in Glasgow for “COP26,” the latest UN climate change conference. At the top of the agenda was the need for carbon mitigation actions to achieve the Paris Accord’s goals and to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century. In anticipation of the confer­ence, the Euro­pean Commission released the “European Green Deal,” a package…

Calming the Climate Policy Debate

In a Pew Research Center poll taken in the spring of 2020, 65 percent of Americans said the federal government was doing “too little to reduce effects of climate change.” A few months later, Pew conducted a survey of registered voters on the top issues for the 2020 presidential election. The voters placed climate change a distant eleventh…

Citizen-Centric Governance

The Welfare of All of Us: A Square Deal for American Families

The coronavirus pandemic has changed people’s expectations of what government can and should do. Debate around the limits of mar­kets has accelerated, creating more space for conservatives and progressives alike to put forward new ideas for reform. Many sense that the rapid expansion of federal power and spending…

Wokeness and Anti-Wokeness

Crises of Elite Competition in the East and West

Whatever one thinks of today’s culture wars, it is hard to deny that the various barbarians currently rattling the gates were, in some sense, created by the failure of the prior generation to live up to its promises. Old center-left bromides about growing the economy by endlessly expanding higher education now ring hollow. Retreads of…

The Weakness of Conservative Anti-Wokeness

In our political culture, there is no issue quite like wokeness. The conversation it provokes tends to be about everything and nothing at the same time. It is central to our politics because Republican resistance to it is perhaps the single greatest force binding the American Right together. And while the mass messaging of Democratic politicians tends to focus…

The CIA and the New Dialect of Power

In January 2021, shortly after Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, the Central Intelligence Agency announced a “digital facelift.” The agency’s goal was to attract millennial and Gen Z applicants who might be skeptical of the organization’s mission and to “increase racial, cultur­al, disability, sexual orientation, and gender diversity so that its work­force is ‘reflective of America…

Heroic Anxiety in the Age of Social Media

There is a strange feedback loop between our institutions and the internet: the internet spreads mental illness like a plague and our institutions codify the latest psychosis. In pop culture, this dynamic created critical barista theory, in which the language of high criticism is used to articulate pop culture preferences. Critical barista theory…

Online Exclusives

  • Between the Servile State and Social Pluralism: Essays on Work, Well-Being, and Political Economy

    As many authors and essays have argued in the pages of American Affairs, and more recently in other prominent outlets, the polarities which have organized American political and economic life for the past several generations are proving increasingly irrelevant to contemporary developments and challenges. Right-libertarians sloganeer…

  • The Pluralist Alternative To Neoliberalism

    Thanks to rising inequality, sub-replacement fertility, and growing anti-system populism, technological civilization in the United States and worldwide is experiencing the latest of several historic crises that have occurred since the transition from agrarian to industrial economies that began in Britain, Western Europe, and the…

  • Social Pluralism and the Principle of Subsidiarity

    Subsidiarity is one of the four basic principles of Catholic social teaching (along with dignity of the individual, common good, and solidarity). Principles however do not create their own facts, and subsidiarity presupposes a certain set of social facts: first, that there exists a comprehensive…

  • Monopolies and Humiliation

    In America today, we have a monopoly crisis. Over the last twenty years, 75 percent of industries have gotten more concentrated. There is concentrated power in every part of American commerce, in big markets like cable and search and pharmaceuticals, and in small markets like…

  • Workism and Falling Fertility

    Developed countries have averaged less than two children per woman for over forty years. Nonetheless, the idea that fertility rates in advanced societies could be kept at or near the replacement rate of about two children per woman is buttressed by a body of literature arguing…

  • Virtual Event—Data Wars: Security, Economics, and Politics

    If AI is the engine of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, data is the fuel. But the economic exploitation of data faces huge obstacles—cybersecurity, national regulation, international competition, and new technologies that threaten to disrupt the control and security of data. What changes are underway, and…

  • Announcing the Common Good Economics Grant Program

    American Affairs, together with American Compass, is pleased to announce the Common Good Economics Grant Program to support projects aimed at rethinking the role that economic policy can play in advancing the common good. CGE grants will be in amounts from $5,000 to $50,000, and…

  • How Do You Solve a Problem Like Amazon?

    America’s third-largest company by market capitalization has filled the shoes of predecessors like Standard Oil, Sears, and General Electric as an epoch-defining corporation. Indeed, offering enhanced consumer convenience, Amazon now defines an entire way of life. Amazon’s profits soared nearly 200 percent last year as…

  • Who’s Minding the App Store?

    A conversation on internet platform policy and economics hosted by American Affairs and American Greatness, featuring panelists Mark W. Koran, Minnesota State Senate (R-32); Blake Masters, Thiel Capital; Fiona McFarland, Florida House of Representatives (R-72); and J. D. Vance, Narya Capital…

  • The Left’s Culture War Rebranding

    Technically, you could call it a victory. But what was expected to be a historic blue wave in 2020 turned out to be barely a ripple. Despite many polls predicting a blowout, Democrats only narrowly defeated a president widely believed to have mismanaged a pandemic…

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