America has spent three decades and hundreds of billions of dollars fighting a national war on drugs. Has the war on drugs been an effective way of dealing with America's drug problem or does it cause more harm than good? How should we weigh the moral and utilitarian arguments for and against the war on drugs; in other words, do we need to intensify the war on drugs or is it time to declare a cease fire?
Is the ballot initiative good or bad for American democracy? Today citizens in twenty-four states have the right to petition their fellow citizens in the law. Initiatives that are approved by voters become law, bypassing the normal legislative process. What are the benefits of this sort of direct democracy? And what are the dangers?
Does bilingual education, teaching non-English speaking students academic subjects in their native language while they learn English, help students or hold them back? Should we use the English immersion method instead? Are the recent bans on bilingual education in California and Arizona a mistake or the beginnings of a national trend?
In 1996, California began the process of deregulating its electric utilities, a process closely watched nationwide, as twenty-five other states also move toward deregulation. The results thus far in California: A power crisis—electricity shortages, rolling blackouts, utilities on the verge of bankruptcy, and rising rates for customers. Was utility deregulation just poorly managed in California or are the electric utilities fundamentally different than industries that have benefitted from deregulation, such as airlines and telephone? Will the California power crisis bring the national movement toward energy deregulation to a halt or not?
What should be done with the federal budget surplus? Does it make sense to spend the surplus on new government programs? What benefits the economy more, cutting taxes or paying down the national debt? Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman offers his advice.
Should the United States build a national missile defense (NMD) or not? What are the technical challenges that NMD must overcome in order to be effective? Would a working missile defense system protect against large-scale attacks from a nation like Russia or China? Or would NMD only work against a limited strike by a smaller rogue nation or terrorist group? Is NMD worth the money it would cost or does it needlessly destablize our relationship with Russia?
From the Monroe Doctrine through the Truman Doctrine, from containment to détente, the principles behind America’s boldest foreign policy initiatives were straightforward and easy to understand. These simple principles told the rest of world what to expect from the United States and what we expected from the rest of the world. What were the principles behind American foreign policy in the 1990s? Did President Clinton apply those principles rigorously or haphazardly? How can President Bush do better?
In 1946, George Orwell wrote a famous essay deploring the decline in the level of modern political discourse. Many would argue that in the following fifty years, the problem has only gotten worse. But why is this the case? Our politicians all have teams of professional speech writers and pollsters, working with focus group data and the latest research to figure out just what the public wants to hear. So why doesn't it work? Why does the political discourse of our modern politicians pale against those of our forefathers?
Does our system of tort law need to be reformed or would reforms restrict a fundamental right to legal redress? Are trial lawyers taking advantage of the system, to the detriment of both citizens that have been harmed and the companies that are sued? Are limits on punitive damage awards and restrictions on class-action lawsuits good ideas or not?