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?”

GOP at the Crossroads

McCabeBlogger of the Week: Josh McCabe
Wellesley College

Last month’s exchange between Marco Rubio and Rand Paul on the former’s proposal for a new child tax credit during a GOP debate brought to light a long simmering tension between pro-family and anti-tax factions within the Republican Party. Since the 1970s, these two rivals have coexisted peacefully based on a compromise in which Republicans put forth a strategy of providing pro-family tax relief in the form of policies like the expansion of the dependent exemption, earned income tax credit (EITC), child tax credit (CTC), and the elimination of marriage penalties in the tax code. Continue reading “GOP at the Crossroads”

French Islam, French Islamophobia: The Aftermath of the Paris Attacks in Historical Perspective

Meghan TinsleyMeghan Tinsley
Boston University

Last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris provoked an immediate, and predictable, wave of state violence against Muslims in France. During the first two weeks of the nationwide state of emergency, French police conducted 2,200 raids, detained 263 people and placed 330 under house arrest. Alongside these developments came numerous reports that Muslims were deliberately and disproportionately being targeted by police. Continue reading “French Islam, French Islamophobia: The Aftermath of the Paris Attacks in Historical Perspective”

What does the Outcome of the COP21 Climate Talks Mean?

Portrait of Dana Fisher, associate professor in the Department of Sociology, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Dana R. Fisher
University of Maryland

In the afterglow of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 21st Conference of the Parties (or what many have come to know as the COP21 Climate Talks in Paris), everyone has spent the past week asking the important question: what does the outcome mean?  As a sociologist who has been studying the UNFCCC process since the Kyoto round of the negotiations in 1997, I can say with certainty that, for those of us living in the United States, at least, the outcome means close to nothing.  Continue reading “What does the Outcome of the COP21 Climate Talks Mean?”

Will We Trust Governments on Climate?

malcolmMalcolm Fairbrother
University of Bristol

Whatever comes of the climate summit that kicked off Monday in Paris, the negotiations will be intense. Signatories of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change meet every year, but this year is exceptional. The stakes are high, with governments and their negotiators seeking to finalize a landmark treaty that will guide the world’s actions for many years to come with respect to greenhouse gas emissions and the climate change they cause. Continue reading “Will We Trust Governments on Climate?”

Inequality has contributed to increasing credit use- and increasing credit use has altered the politics of inequality

Basak KusBasak Kus
Wesleyan University

In recent decades, consumers across the world’s rich countries have been making dramatically expanded use of credit. As the figure below shows, before the financial crisis hit at the end of 2007, credit use by U.S. households reached the unprecedented level of 95% of GDP. This rise was related to another major change in the economic life of many countries, including the U.S.: dramatically rising income inequality. Increasing credit use was fueled by widening disparities in income distribution, and at the same time it shaped the dynamics and politics of inequality in a variety of ways. Continue reading “Inequality has contributed to increasing credit use- and increasing credit use has altered the politics of inequality”

The West, ISIS, and the Legacy of Empire

James_ParisotJames Parisot
Binghamton University

The recent attacks in Paris have triggered increased calls by the American and European right to put ‘boots on the ground’ and destroy ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). This has gone hand in hand with a burst of xenophobia and racism, as politicians like France’s Marine Le Pen call for closing the borders to refugees to protect the nation. On the other hand, many liberals and those further left are pushing for the continuation of regulated acceptance of Syrian refugees and against the twin reactions of nationalism and imperialism. Continue reading “The West, ISIS, and the Legacy of Empire”

Making a case for the “open” mosque as methodology: Muslim leaders as agents in challenging boundaries to belonging

Elisabeth BeckerElisabeth Becker
Yale University

Muslims in Europe remain designated to an “outsider” status, bounded from the mainstream by the belief that they cannot—on account of their culture—fully belong. This idea dominates not only the media but also the academy, as the vast majority of scholars study Islam from the outside. Failing to engage with actual Muslim communities, scholars of Islam mostly focus on discourses surrounding (or stemming from) failures at acceptance. They center on reactions to this religious presence and increased prioritization of religious identity among young European Muslims. Continue reading “Making a case for the “open” mosque as methodology: Muslim leaders as agents in challenging boundaries to belonging”

Why Globalization Wins? Hint: It’s Not Because of Democracy. Or Science.

malcolmMalcolm Fairbrother
University of Bristol

As negotiations unfold around the world for many new agreements on trade and investment, it’s easy to forget that not long ago the governments of most countries used to be much less enthusiastic about globalization than they are now. In 1980, for example, the governments of Canada and Mexico issued a joint statement flatly rejecting “current informal proposals for trilateral economic cooperation among Canada, Mexico and the United States.” As it turned out, of course, policymakers in both of those countries eventually changed their minds, and by 1994 we had NAFTA. Continue reading “Why Globalization Wins? Hint: It’s Not Because of Democracy. Or Science.”

What the Great Depression’s Occupiers Teach us about Money

Jakob_FeinigJakob Feinig
Binghamton University

The newly elected labor leader proposes that the Bank of England invest directly in infrastructure and housing. The Swiss are likely to decide about the abolition of bank-created money by popular vote. On the other side of the Atlantic, an economist and a hedge funds manager writing in Foreign Affairs suggest that the Fed should spend money directly instead of lending to banks to ensure that cash finds its way into citizens’ pockets. These proposals all have the potential to re-invigorate the politics of money. Continue reading “What the Great Depression’s Occupiers Teach us about Money”