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Winter 2017 / Volume I, Number 4
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Education and Inequality

Accelerate Education

Virtually everyone believes education is a key to prosperity. But the fact that Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a tie-breaking vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as secretary of education raises the question: why does education provoke such sharp divisions in the United States? At present, the college enrollment for the 18–24 age group stands around 40 percent, up from 26 percent in 1980. As expected, labor force participation for this age group has declined…

Excellence and Equality in Mathematics Education

For most countries, mathematical literacy is an expected outcome of schooling. This has been true for a long time. Mathematical literacy initially encompassed basic arithmetic skills such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing whole numbers, decimals, and fractions; computing percentages; and computing the area and volume of simple geometric shapes. More recently, the digitization of many aspects of…

Neoliberal Politics and Culture

From Progressive Neoliberalism to Trump—and Beyond

Whoever speaks of “crisis” today risks being dismissed as a bloviator, given the term’s banalization through endless loose talk. But there is a precise sense in which we do face a crisis today. If we characterize it precisely and identify its distinctive dynamics, we can better determine what is needed to resolve it. On that basis, too, we might glimpse a path that leads beyond the current impasse—through political realignment to societal transformation. At first sight, today’s crisis appears to be political. Its most spectacular expression is right here, in the United States: Donald Trump—his election, his presidency, and the contention surrounding it. But there is no shortage of analogues…

Capitalism’s Character Types

Writing in the Atlantic, in an article titled “How Democrats Lost Their Way on Immigration” (July/August 2017), Peter Beinart asks why Democrats moved from evenhandedness on the issue of immigration to a fervent belief in open borders. Why did they move from support for patriotism to contempt for the nation-state? Why do they refuse to…

The Western Elite from a Chinese Perspective

The Evangelical Christians I have met in the United States often talk about how reading the Bible changed their lives. They talk about being born again. I am not an Evangelical Christian. I am a Chinese atheist who came to the West to study at the world’s best universities and, later, to work at one…

Reevaluating the Culture Wars

In America, “culture war” is a term of surprisingly recent origin. It dates from the early 1990s, and the conflict it signified was declared over almost as soon as it was named. “In his convention speech, Pat Buchanan referred to the ‘culture wars,’” Irving Kristol wrote in 1992, “I regret to inform him that those wars are over, and the Left has won.”…

Black America and Donald Trump

My thinking along these lines is not Trump-centric. It is how I have viewed the political strategy and emotional reaction of the black community to the Republican Party for twenty years. Yes, because so much of our dialogue and activity is a reaction to the Republican Party, we are controlled by it. The impact has been devastating, at times…

Renewing American Industry and Labor

Edison’s Legacy: Industrial Laboratories and Innovation

Between 1999 and 2016, the U.S. share of global high technology exports dropped from 18 percent to 7 percent. From one of the world’s leading technology product exporters prior to 2000, the United States has become a net importer since then, and the deficit keeps growing. During this period…

Revitalizing the Rust Belt

Large swaths of Pennsylvania, New York, and the Midwest have stagnated for decades, resulting in unrecovered job losses nearing 60 percent in some parts of the region since the 1950s. Meanwhile, the languishing U.S. Rust Belt serves as an instrument of blame in a divisive political climate. While solutions remain elusive, the region continues to…

For a Universal Job Guarantee

The American welfare system—based on means testing and market-driven social services—which has been in place since World War II is increasingly seen as broken by both Left and Right. Progressives are frustrated because they believe the benefits are insufficient, while libertarians and conservatives dislike the model due to the excessive complexity and redundancies that arise…

Low-Skill Immigration: A Case for Restriction

Lawler Foods, a large commercial bakery outside of Houston, prefers to hire Hispanics. That was the allegation in legal briefs filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which contends that Lawler created its 80-percent Hispanic workforce in an area where much of the low-skill labor pool is black by advertising for Spanish speakers, then…

The Humanities

How Not to Defend the Humanities

In Renaissance Italy, the birthplace of the humanities, there were people who believed in literature. Not just people who read literature, wrote literature, studied literature, professed literature, packaged and sold literature, as today, but people who really believed in it. They believed that certain old books—containing poetry, history, moral philosophy, drama, oratory—could reshape the souls…

There Is No Case for the Humanities

The humanities are not just dying. By some measures, they are almost dead. In Scotland, the ancient Chairs in Humanity (which is to say, Latin) have almost disappeared in the last few decades: abolished, left vacant, or merged into chairs of classics. So too in the same period, the University of Oxford revised its famed…

Online Exclusives

  • Two Cheers for Tax Reform

    The recently announced tax reform package is one of the few serious and intelligent proposals offered by House Republicans in years. Not surprisingly, however, everyone seems to hate it. Defenders no less than critics of the plan seem incapable of thinking about tax policy outside…

  • China, America, and “Nationalism”

    “Fire and fury” were expected at the annual CLSA conference in Hong Kong in September. Stephen Bannon was to deliver a frontal assault on China—on Chinese soil—and advance the proposition that the United States and China are, or should be, engaged in an epic struggle…

  • The Incoherence of the Economists

    What is an economist? There is an easy answer: economists are social scientists who create simplified quantitative models of large-scale market phenomena. But they are more than that. Besides their scientific role, economists have achieved a social cachet that far exceeds what one might expect…

  • U.S. Policy towards Africa under Trump

    This paper explores the possible policy and institutional changes affecting South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) more generally that could occur during the presidency of Donald Trump. The direction that the U.S. government is likely to take after the election…

  • France 2017: The Impossible Conservative Revolution?

    France has just emerged from one of the maddest years of politics in its democratic history. It is often said that the French adore politics; but at the time of writing, the emotion that prevails at the close of legislative elections marked by a massive…

  • The Verge: Reflections on a Second Civil War

    “Are We on the Verge of Another Civil War?” So asks The Nation, in a headline for an interview with David Armitage, the Harvard historian and author of the recent book, Civil Wars: A History in Ideas (Knopf, 2017).  “Are We Nearing Civil War?” So…

  • Rob Ford, Donald Trump, and the New Direction of Political Polarization

    You are not a typical American. Not even close. The typical American doesn’t read lengthy articles in policy journals. The typical American gets up far too early in the morning, after too little sleep, works too hard for too long in a job that pays…

  • The Great Exhaustion: Manned Space Flight and Philosophy

    It is not difficult to imagine historians, several centuries from now, wondering how it could be that Americans, without really knowing how to do it, decided to go to the moon in eight short years. “What were they thinking?” these historians might exclaim! Their amazement…

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