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National Affairs (#5 Fall 2010) (journal)
National Affairs - #5 Fall 2010 - journal Author:Yuval Levin, ed. The Trouble with Public Sector Unions — DANIEL DISALVO — Across the country, state and local governments are being crushed by huge deficits and debts, often caused by the disproportionately generous salaries, benefits, and pensions pledged to unionized public workers. How did so many of America's public employees come to be unionized? How did thei... more »r unions become so powerful? And how can elected officials address massive budget shortfalls in the face of an intransigent and organized public-sector work force?
Managing the Federal Debt
In just the last two years, since the height of the economic crisis, America's national debt has grown by a stunning $3 trillion. Some economists argue that this massive borrowing puts us at risk of a disastrous currency crisis; others argue that we have not borrowed and spent nearly enough to stimulate economic growth. To understand how the same facts and figures could point to such different conclusions, we have to examine just what America's debt consists of, how our government sells it (and to whom), and the risks policymakers take if they fail to get our borrowing under control.
Does School Choice "Work"?
FREDERICK M. HESS
Recent years have brought prominent defections from the school-choice movement, as studies of student performance have yielded disappointing results. But this sense of disillusionment has as much to do with years of overpromising as with the results of real choice experiments. Above all, it suggests that advocates of choice need to redirect their arguments away from emotional appeals and toward genuine market-based reforms.
The Widest Achievement Gap
DAVID L. KIRP
African-American boys vastly underperform by almost every measure of educational achievement. Some experts argue that this "achievement gap" is caused by black students' social and economic circumstances; others argue that it is pre-determined by innate ability; both groups are, in a sense, education-policy fatalists. But as the debate has dragged on, real-world evidence increasingly points to educational interventions that can make a meaningful difference in the lives of black students.
Our Responder in Chief
PATRICK S. ROBERTS
When disaster strikes, Americans look to the president to take charge???and are often disappointed with anything short of immediate and complete success. But in most cases, the president does not have much authority or ability to handle disaster management, and the effort to meet unreasonable expectations often makes problems worse. A different, more modest role for the president???and for the federal government???would better serve Americans the next time we confront a major catastrophe.?
Partisanship in Perspective
PIETRO S. NIVOLA
We all know the common concerns about partisanship: that we are living in an era of unprecedented divisiveness, that such partisanship makes good government impossible, and that it would have turned the stomachs of our nation's founders. But are these complaints really true? A look at contemporary partisanship and the history of American party politics reveals a more complicated story than the clich?s suggest.?
A Limited Government Amendment
JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
If the past 18 months have shown anything, it is that government spending has gotten out of control. Elected officials of both parties, however, too often have little desire or incentive to end the profligacy. Fortunately, America's founders provided us with a means of correcting course. Properly designed, a constitutional amendment to limit the growth of spending could be just what this moment requires.
America's Epicurean Liberalism
JOSHUA D. HAWLEY
From our arts and literature to our sports and politics, contemporary American culture is defined by radical individualism and the quest for personal self-discovery and fulfillment. But the roots of today's epicurean liberalism go back a long way, to a debate between the two towering figures of the Progressive era: Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.
The Moral Equivalent of War?
WILFRED M. MCCLAY
Whether comparing an oil-spill cleanup to a military campaign, or declaring a war on drugs or poverty or obesity, America's leaders???especially those on the left???love employing the analogy of war in pursuit of non-military ends. The history of that analogy, as well as its appeal and limits, offer useful insights into today's liberal mindset.« less