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Report 2004: Introduction

Government institutions are the mechanisms that address how society approaches collective concerns while balancing freedom and order — economically, politically, and socially. The Hoover Institution’s concentration is on generating, scrutinizing, and disseminating ideas defining a free society, focusing on seven Institutional Initiatives (described in detail within this Report):

    1. Economic Prosperity and Fiscal Responsibility
    2. American Educational Institutions and Academic Performance
    3. Individual Freedom and the Rule of Law
    4. Growth of Government and Accountability to Society
    5. American Individualism and Societal Values
    6. Diminishing Collectivism and Evolving Democratic Capitalism
    7. National Priorities, International Rivalries, and Global Cooperation

These initiatives provide a framework for scholarly research pertaining to the Hoover Institution’s mission, which emphasizes representative government, private enterprise, and personal freedom. Three principles expressed in the mission statement are explicit as part of our archival function, study of public policy, and participation in a national dialogue:

Limit government intrusion into the lives of individuals. The initiatives are inquisitive about the specific role and extent of government in addressing societal issues. Research evaluates the appropriate balance between the rule of law and individual freedom. Areas of inquiry include examining whether the growth of government has been productive and meaningful and whether government is sufficiently accountable to society; whether government programs for education, health care, and retirement are the best available to society; whether government norms and attention to designated groups of people deflect attention from individual character and freedom; and whether the world at large is moving away from burdensome and all-encompassing governments to those that emphasize democratic capitalism.

Improve the human condition. The initiatives seek to study ways in which sustained economic prosperity, individual freedom with reasonable rules of order, and safeguards to the American way of life are accomplished. Inquiry focuses on potential trade-offs between unbridled economic growth and regulation of commerce in the public interest; between personal freedom and the appropriate rule of law; between private solutions to societal concerns and uniform public resolution; between efficient policies enacted for the public good and inefficient methods motivated in the name of equity and fairness; and between what is good for individuals irrespective of group identity and what is good for classes, ignoring individual characteristics.

Secure and safeguard peace. The initiatives reflect on an effective guarantee of society’s freedoms and rights according to the Constitution, with an emphasis on the resolve to address any threat to peaceful coexistence nationally and internationally. National priorities are assessed and studied in a dynamic world of changing situations involving international rivalries and global cooperation. Whether the trend toward less-centralized government and disaggregated ways of solving a nation’s economic and governance issues leads to improved prosperity, enhanced individual freedom, and a reduced threat of conflict is worthy of inquiry and addressed herein.

Our overarching purposes are to collect the requisite sources of knowledge as part of our library and archival function; to analyze the effects of government actions relating to public policy; to generate, publish, and disseminate ideas that encourage positive policy formation using reasoned arguments and intellectual rigor, converting conceptual insights into practical initiatives judged to be beneficial to society; and to convey to the public, the media, lawmakers, and others an understanding of important public policy issues and to promote vigorous dialogue. We strive to accomplish these goals for each of the above seven initiatives.

John Raisian
Director, Hoover Institution

W. Kurt Hauser
Chairman, Board of Overseers