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Reconstruction and the End of History

The years between 1865 and 1877 form the period in American history known as Reconstruction—reconstruction, in this case, meaning the rebuilding of the federal Union which had been dis­rupted by the attempt of eleven Southern states to secede from that Union in order to protect legalized slavery. It might have been a new era of…

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Shopping for the Sublime

When Bruce Springsteen—that avatar of a blue-collar America fighting for its life against the riptide of history—asked on his 1981 single “The River” whether a dream is a lie if it doesn’t come true or if it’s something worse, the question was rhetorical. This is America, after all. Dreams and lies are similar things, each with a force derived from desire…

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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…

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There Is No Free Market for Electricity: Can There Ever Be?

Electricity is an input in virtually everything we do as a modern society. Few Americans remember what it was like to live without it and its attendant benefits on quality of life, labor productivity, and human health. Electricity is today largely taken for granted, yet for middle-class and older Americans utility bills often constitute a…

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Rebuilding American Infrastructure

When Donald Trump chose “Make America Great Again” as his campaign slogan, he put words to something Americans had increasingly come to see and feel. For many people, their personal lives and communities were no longer as great as they used to be, and they were looking for someone to set things right. Restoring rather than building…

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