Radical authenticity, or how not to do cultural policy

Fiona Rose-Greenland
University of Chicago

In case you’re not breathlessly following recent developments in American cultural policy, here’s an update: on May 9 President Obama signed the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, which would outlaw the importation of almost all Syrian archaeological artifacts into the US. The rationale is simple: stop the flow of antiquities to lucrative western markets and you’ve shut off an important source of revenue for the Islamic State. As far as policy motives go, it’s a good one. It promises both to undermine ISIS’s horrific program of terrorism and despotic rule, and to protect historic sites and objects for the people of Syria and the elusive “universal” cultural constituency. I support the act—it’s a step in the right direction—but it does have me thinking about some of the unintended consequences of cultural policy, particularly the intersection between local and global interests. Since the ISIS situation is still unfolding and we don’t yet have outcomes to study, let’s look at an older but related case: the Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan.

Continue reading “Radical authenticity, or how not to do cultural policy”

Whose Democracy? The Class Divide in Political Participation in the United States

Daniel LaurisonDaniel Laurison
London School of Economics

While there are no longer legal restrictions on voting for most[i] disadvantaged people in this country, there is nonetheless a steep class gradient in participation in American democracy: people who have less, vote less. As we watch the process of the 2016 Presidential election unfold, it is worth remembering that the voters whose poll responses are pored over by pundits, and who will elect the next President and congress of the United States, are better-off, on average, than the citizenry of the country as a whole. Continue reading “Whose Democracy? The Class Divide in Political Participation in the United States”

Taxing the Rich

McCabeJosh McCabe 
Wellesley College

When and why do countries tax the rich? That’s the question at the center of Kenneth Scheve and David Stasavage’s aptly titled book, Taxing the Rich. The authors challenge a number of convention explanations for the rise and decline of taxes on the rich, including democracy, inequality, and the triumph of economic arguments. Instead, they argue that it can be explained by ideas about fairness: Countries tend to tax the rich when people believe that the state has privileged them in some way and taxes are seen as the best way to compensate for it. Specifically, they trace it to mass mobilization for WWI and WWII. In order to compensate for the burden placed on the masses by the military conscription of men, policymakers saw taxing the rich as the fair “conscription of wealth” for the same purpose. Continue reading “Taxing the Rich”

Who’s Not Gridlocked?

LachmannRichard Lachmann
SUNY- Albany

American politics, at least since the Republicans took control of the House in 2010, has been gridlocked. It appears likely that even if the Republicans suffer a massive defeat this year under a ticket headed by Trump or Cruz, they will continue to control the House. Who then is able to get policies and benefits out of the Federal government, and who appears likely to benefit under the next Administration? Continue reading “Who’s Not Gridlocked?”

From Paris to Parliaments: Is There a Climate for Action?

malcolmMalcolm Fairbrother
University of Bristol

The Paris Agreement reached at the COP21 late last year was a big success. In the words of the United Kingdom’s Special Representative for Climate Change, December 2015 was when humanity really decided that climate change was “a problem we agreed to do something about.”

But the news is not all good. If you add up all the commitments the governments of the world have made, we are nowhere near keeping global warming under 2˚C—the notional target beyond which things could get really bad. There remains a huge divide between the aspirations voiced (and to some extent even codified) in Paris, and the realities of what’s happening in parliaments and congresses around the world. Most countries are doing puzzlingly little on climate.

Continue reading “From Paris to Parliaments: Is There a Climate for Action?”

ISIL and Genocide: On the Power of a Label

OSU TEDx speaker and performer portraits photographed on Dec. 10th, 2015. (Joshua Orack / Office of Student Life, Ohio State University)

Hollie Nyseth Brehm
Ohio State University

A few weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is committing genocide against Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. This announcement came on the heels of the U.S. House of Representative’s unanimous resolution condemning ISIL’s actions as genocide.

As someone who studies genocide, I was immediately flooded with messages from family, friends, and students. Was ISIL really committing genocide? Did the declaration signal forthcoming U.S. action? This was an important statement, right?

My responses to these three questions were typically 1) yes, 2) no, and 3) it’s complicated.

Continue reading “ISIL and Genocide: On the Power of a Label”

Will the EU Fall? Three Scenarios, Four Explanations

Frédéric Mérand 
Université de Montréal

The death of states, empires and international organizations is an exceedingly rare phenomenon. My generation witnessed the end of the Soviet Union in less than two years (1989-1991). But contemporaries of the fall of Rome probably didn’t realize it was happening because it took too long. Unless they are defeated militarily, political structures tend to be extremely resilient. Will it be the same with the European Union?
Continue reading “Will the EU Fall? Three Scenarios, Four Explanations”

Conservatives on Campus: Myths and Realities

McCabeJosh McCabe 
Wellesley College

What is the reality conservative professors and students face in contemporary American campus life? That’s the question at the center of a panel discussion, Conservatives on Campus: Myths and Realities, recently hosted by the Freedom Project at Wellesley College. Hoping to eschew the usual polemics on the topic, the event brought together three outstanding scholars – Amy Binder, Neil Gross, and Jon Shields – who have recently conducted research and written books on life for conservatives in academia.
Continue reading “Conservatives on Campus: Myths and Realities”

Supporting Israel for the Wrong Reasons

Shai Dromi
Yale University

Presidential candidates on both sides of the map have been called, inevitably, to address perhaps the world’s thorniest political problem: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. From Rubio’s “unconditional support” of Israel, through Trump’s promise to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, to Sanders’s support of Israel as part of a “two-state solution”, promises are many but actual details or plans are absent. The problem with these various declarations of support for Israel is that they often assume that supporting Israel means supporting (or at least tolerating) conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s expansionist policies in the West Bank.
Continue reading “Supporting Israel for the Wrong Reasons”

Minimum Wage Laws Aren’t Enough. We Need Workplace Democracy

Barry EidlinBarry Eidlin
McGill University

One of the few bright spots amidst otherwise distressing news on growing inequality in the U.S. has been the success of efforts across the country to raise the minimum wage. While congressional gridlock has kept the federal minimum wage frozen at $7.25 since 2009, twenty-nine states have raised their minimum wages on their own, including in conservative “red states” like Arkansas and Nebraska. Additionally, several municipalities have raised their minimum wages even further, with cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles reaching as high as $15.00/hour in the coming years. Many of these minimum wage hikes were the result of ballot initiatives, which voters approved in most cases by wide margins. Polling data shows that roughly three-quarters of Americans favor raising the minimum wage by up to 50 percent. Continue reading “Minimum Wage Laws Aren’t Enough. We Need Workplace Democracy”

Is Radical Change Possible? #Elections2016 #HillaryClinton #BernieSanders- final comments

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTS4IJU

Basak Kus – Sven Steinmo – Josh Pacewicz – Josh McCabe 

Monica Prasad – Richard Lachmann- Fred Block- Stephanie Lee Mudge

The question of policy change is at the heart of the contest for the Democratic nomination between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. What is feasible, what is not? Is major change a possibility? Does the officer matter where the office is subject to such great deal of constraint? We are inviting scholars who study policy change and American politics to weigh in.


Continue reading “Is Radical Change Possible? #Elections2016 #HillaryClinton #BernieSanders- final comments”

The Problems of Actually Existing Socialism in Venezuela

Timothy M. Gill
University of Georgia

For nearly the past two decades, chavistas, or supporters of former President Hugo Chávez, have dominated Venezuelan government institutions and have actively promoted the Bolivarian Revolution, whose key ideological feature is the promotion of twenty-first century socialism. Cracks in the socialist hegemony, however, became apparent this past December. For the first time in the new century, the opposition won control over the National Assembly, and has since begun to usher in changes that may unravel large portions of the Bolivarian Revolution – if not, remove President Nicolás Maduro, and reverse the country’s socialist model. Far from a public rejection of the entirety of the socialist model though, the opposition victory closely corresponds with a multiplicity of domestic economic problems that are based on an overreliance on oil export earnings, currency distortions, and the unwillingness of the government to seriously modify its policies.
Continue reading “The Problems of Actually Existing Socialism in Venezuela”

Is Radical Change Possible? #Elections2016 #HillaryClinton #BernieSanders- the discussion continues…

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTS4IJU

Basak Kus – Sven Steinmo – Josh Pacewicz – Josh McCabe 

Monica Prasad – Richard Lachmann- Fred Block

The question of policy change is at the heart of the contest for the Democratic nomination between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. What is feasible, what is not? Is major change a possibility? Does the officer matter where the office is subject to such great deal of constraint? We are inviting scholars who study policy change and American politics to weigh in.


Continue reading “Is Radical Change Possible? #Elections2016 #HillaryClinton #BernieSanders- the discussion continues…”

Democracy and the Origins of the American Regulatory State

basak kusBasak Kus
Wesleyan University

“Although democracy is often assumed to ensure that states respond to social demands, voters are typically ignorant of basic political information, such as the names of their representatives, the policies governments implement, or the effects policies have upon society,” DeCanio writes in his new book Democracy and the Origins of the American Regulatory State. Continue reading “Democracy and the Origins of the American Regulatory State”

Would integrating women into draft registration be good for equality?

dorit gevaDorit Geva 
Central European University

There are three possible outcomes of the current consultation over women’s integration into Selective Service registration: 1) Selective Service remains a male-only institution; 2) Selective Service is modified to incorporate women; or 3) Selective Service is disbanded. Let’s consider the arguments against and for women’s registration Continue reading “Would integrating women into draft registration be good for equality?”

Why have women been barred from registering with the Selective Service System, and why is this issue being reexamined now?

dorit gevaDorit Geva 
Central European University

Although there was brief consideration of drafting women nurses during WWII, women have never been required to register with the Selective Service System, and have never been drafted. However, women have been actively recruited into the All Volunteer Force (AVF) since the mid-1970s.

Commitment to maintaining a male-only draft system was reaffirmed in 1981 when the Supreme Court determined that women cannot register with Selective Service. President Jimmy Carter had requested in 1980 to renew draft registration, and to incorporate women’s registration. Continue reading “Why have women been barred from registering with the Selective Service System, and why is this issue being reexamined now?”

A Guide to the Selective Service System and Why We Should Bid it Adieu

dorit gevaDorit Geva 
Central European University.

In the final weeks of 2015, the United States Defense Secretary, Ash Carter, announced that as of January 2016 all military positions within the All Volunteer Force (AVF) would be opened to women. President Obama’s Press Secretary later clarified that the Department of Defense has provided Congress with an analysis of how this change would affect the Military Selective Service Act—the legislation which sets up the infrastructure for the federal draft system. The White House is now in consultation with the Department of Defense and Congress in order to assess whether opening the most dangerous combatant positions to women soldiers has implications for the male-only draft system. Continue reading “A Guide to the Selective Service System and Why We Should Bid it Adieu”

Is Radical Change Possible? #Elections2016 #HillaryClinton #BernieSanders

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTS4IJU

Basak Kus – Sven Steinmo – Josh Pacewicz – Josh McCabe – Monica Prasad – Richard Lachmann

The question of policy change is at the heart of the contest for the Democratic nomination between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. What is feasible, what is not? Is major change a possibility? Does the officer matter where the office is subject to such great deal of constraint? We are inviting scholars who study policy change and American politics to weigh in.


Continue reading “Is Radical Change Possible? #Elections2016 #HillaryClinton #BernieSanders”

FDR’s Long Shadow: How Roosevelt’s Most Important Veto Planted the Seeds of Modern Austerity Politics

Jakob_FeinigJakob Feinig
Binghamton University

Should easy money or government spending jumpstart the economy? Many commentators have asked this question in the post-2008 era. With rare exceptions, the distinction between monetary and fiscal policy appears obvious to politically interested Americans on the left and the right. The division of labor between “technical” decisions about the money supply—made by Federal Reserve officials—and “political” decisions regarding public spending—made by Congress—only reinforces this obviousness. Continue reading “FDR’s Long Shadow: How Roosevelt’s Most Important Veto Planted the Seeds of Modern Austerity Politics”

Would a wealth tax work? Lessons from the local property tax

Isaac MartinBlogger of the Week: Isaac William Martin
University of California, San Diego

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century calls for a global regime of wealth taxes in order to prevent extremes of inequality. We already have an example of a wealth tax regime that has operated for more than 200 years in an open economy—the local property tax in the United States. How well has it reduced inequality?

Not well, and the reasons why are instructive. Continue reading “Would a wealth tax work? Lessons from the local property tax”

Why don’t we have a Piketty tax already?

Isaac MartinBlogger of the Week: Isaac William Martin
University of California, San Diego

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century made headlines around the world with its bold proposal for a progressive tax on net wealth. It’s an idea with a distinguished pedigree; Thomas Paine, for one, proposed a similar tax, for very similar reasons, more than 200 years ago. So why doesn’t the United States have a progressive wealth tax already?

The short answer is the Constitution. Continue reading “Why don’t we have a Piketty tax already?”

The Piketty of the Nineteenth Century

Isaac MartinBlogger of the Week: Isaac William Martin
University of California, San Diego

Even if you haven’t read Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, you probably already know the story: At a time of record economic inequality, an economist issued a stirring call to action in the surprising shape of a fat book. The text was long and demanding, part learned commentary on classical political economy, part abstract treatise, and part polemic, but the underlying argument was elegant in its simplicity. Over the long run of history, the share of income going to rents will tend to increase. Continue reading “The Piketty of the Nineteenth Century”

Prostitution Policy and the Unraveling of the European Union

Photo credit: Petri Tuohimaa / Barkland Design Greggor Mattson
Oberlin College

Is the European Project Falling Apart? screamed recent headlines as the European refugee crisis moved into chronic mode. Close European Union (EU) watchers can be forgiven for crisis fatigue, because the European project has been falling apart at least the disastrous failure of the 2005 European Constitution. Continue reading “Prostitution Policy and the Unraveling of the European Union”

A Hobbesian Solution To The Syrian Refugee Crisis

Randall CollinsRandall Collins
University of Pennsylvania

The civil war in Syria has now killed a quarter of a million people, and driven over 4 million people to foreign countries where they wait hopelessly in the limbo of refugee camps. Half the people who remain in Syria are homeless. Out of a population once estimated at 18 million, about three-quarters have lost everything. Continue reading “A Hobbesian Solution To The Syrian Refugee Crisis”

Strategies for Bipartisan Child Tax Credit Reform

McCabeBlogger of the Week: Josh McCabe
Wellesley College

The reason the U.S. is alone among liberal welfare regimes in excluding the poorest families from the benefits of its child tax credit is that we lack family allowances as a policy legacy on which to build support for it. The taxpayer is exalted and tax relief is a powerful currency in contemporary American politics. This poses a unique problem for anti-poverty advocates given that we know broad-based child benefits are one of the most highly effective methods for reducing child poverty. If the U.S.’s exceptionally high child poverty rate stems mostly from our nonrefundable child tax credit (CTC) then how can we overcome this obstacle? Continue reading “Strategies for Bipartisan Child Tax Credit Reform”

Response to Campbell: Denmark’s Lesson for Democrats

McCabeBlogger of the Week: Josh McCabe
Wellesley College

In his discussion of why Bernie Sanders is talking about Denmark, John Campbell makes several excellent points about the relationship between the size of government and economic competitiveness. He argues that U.S. Republicans, with their emphasis on tax cuts and small government, could learn from a thing or two from Danes, who seemed to have figured out a way to generously tax and spend without hurting the economy. The lesson is that the U.S. could afford to substantially raise taxes and increase spending on programs that reduce poverty. Continue reading “Response to Campbell: Denmark’s Lesson for Democrats”

How Being Anti-Tax Became Pro-Family in the U.S.

McCabeBlogger of the Week: Josh McCabe
Wellesley College

A cursory examination of otherwise similar liberal welfare regimes reveals that the U.S. is unique when it comes to child tax credits (CTC). Canada’s child tax benefit, United Kingdom’s child tax credit, Australia’s family tax benefit, and New Zealand’s family tax credit all provide fully refundable (meaning you receive the full amount regardless of tax liability) tax credits to families with children. While a recent Congressional budget deal made the U.S. child tax credit permanently partially refundable, it was originally nonrefundable when introduced in 1997. Whereas other countries provide the maximum CTC benefit to the poorest families, the poorest families in the U.S. receive nothing from even a partially refundable CTC. How do we explain this example of American exceptionalism? Continue reading “How Being Anti-Tax Became Pro-Family in the U.S.”

Why is Bernie Talking About Denmark?

john campbellJohn L. Campbell 
Dartmouth College

Bernie Sanders, candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for President, frequently mentions Denmark as a country America could learn a lot from. Nowhere is this lesson needed more than among the current crop of Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for President and who have called for all sorts of federal tax and spending cuts, arguing that this is necessary to enhance America’s economic competitiveness in the global economy. Really? Continue reading “Why is Bernie Talking About Denmark?”