The Public Interest

Character and culture

James Q. Wilson

Spring 2005

IN The Public Interest’s twentieth anniversary issue, an essay appeared suggesting that Americans were increasingly concerned about the question of character. After many years of worrying about economic cycles, industrial management, and the negative income tax, we were beginning to be troubled by problems that seemed to arise out of a failure of character: poor school achievement, rising welfare rolls, a tolerance for deficits, and predatory crime.

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