In the past few years, college campuses have been rocked by serious unrest that has introduced a new vocabulary of protest — from safe spaces, to microaggressions, trigger warnings, and more. It is easy to dismiss these student complaints as evidence of an over-sheltered generation or a culture losing its mind. But we would be wise to take them at least a little more seriously, and to consider them in light of the proper purpose and character of higher education.
The economic model of higher education is plainly a mess, and the student-loan system is at the center of it all. But policymakers searching for alternatives too often end up proposing seemingly market-based approaches (like federally guaranteed loans) that have not been sufficiently worked out and that are unlikely to work as promised. Market-minded reformers need to get more specific, and more creative, if they are to offer families real alternatives.
Everyone talks about the “gig economy,” whether as a source of great promise or a harbinger of risk. But in fact, the data about employment and consumption simply do not support the hype about an economic transformation and a new kind of work. It’s a shame, too, because a gig economy would actually help address a number of the economic and social problems modern America faces.
Hospital care, which comprises about a third of national health-care spending, is the single biggest line item in the nation’s health-care bill. And these days, the hospital sector is in the midst of a massive transformation thanks to a wave of mergers and consolidations. Understanding why this wave is upon us, and just how much harm it could do, could help policymakers take steps to revive competition and put consumers first.
The shale-oil revolution is one of the great economic success stories of 21st-century America — dramatically reducing our dependence on foreign oil while lowering costs for consumers. But the shale revolution has faced serious cultural and political backlash, and its defenders have regularly failed to make the whole case for shale. Grasping the moral dimensions of that case — and of the case for capitalism more generally — would clarify what is at stake in our energy debates.
Although both social scientists and parents often do their best to avoid looking too closely, the available research suggests that heavy use of commercial daycare leads to some poor outcomes for many children. Subsidizing this form of child care effectively discourages the use of other arrangements that have not shown these negative effects. Better policy would help parents in a broader way, providing financial help regardless of families’ child-care choices.
More than 11 million people who were born in Mexico now live in the United States, accounting for more than 27% of all immigrants in America, and their relationship to Mexico is often fraught and complicated. In fact, the Mexican government has frequently worked to exert its influence over its expatriates north of the border, and through them on American politics and culture. The story of these efforts highlights the complexity, and the high stakes, of our immigration debates.
Though the much-discussed possibility of an open GOP convention appears unlikely now, this year's surprising election season — with its bitter intra-party battles and aggressive use of social media — may presage a new era in conventions. A look back at conventions past may give us a hint of what is to come.
The idea of equality of opportunity looms large in our politics, yet we lack a generally accepted definition of the term. Conservatives, in particular, need to gain clarity about the left’s expansive view of equality of opportunity as equality of life chances — arguably the central moral doctrine of modern liberalism — and about the implications of this view for our most heated political arguments.
Richard John Neuhaus, who died in 2009, was among the most influential Christian intellectuals of the 20th century. But the arc of his long career is often misunderstood. Many admirers and detractors alike think of him as a liberal who moved right. But in fact, Neuhaus always championed a particular kind of religiously inspired liberalism, which he believed to be rooted firmly in American history and the truth about human society.
Serious inquiry into the life of our republic requires serious reflection on the proper limits of the power of majorities. This was the question that drove the nation toward the Civil War. It is the question that arises when our legitimately elected government violates the basic rights of its citizens. And it is the question that should guide us toward a proper understanding of the role of judges. Moral reasoning properly done and the Constitution properly construed both affirm that many things should be beyond the reach of majorities.