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TOUGH CHOICES: Vouchers and the Supreme Court

with Erwin Chemerinsky, Douglas W. Kmiecvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, February 22, 2002

In the summer of 2002, the Supreme Court will announce its decision on a Cleveland school voucher case that many are calling the most important case on educational opportunities since Brown v. the Board of Education in 1954. In the Cleveland vouchers program, 96 percent of the participating children use government-funded tuition vouchers to attend religious schools. Is such an arrangement constitutional, or does it violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which has served as the constitutional basis for the separation of church and state? Just how should the Supreme Court rule, and what effect will its ruling have on the future of vouchers in the United States?

TAKING IT TO THE LIMIT: Takings and the Supreme Court

with Erwin Chemerinsky, Douglas W. Kmiec, Joseph Saxvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, February 22, 2002

Should property owners be compensated for the effects of government regulation? According to the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution "No person shall … be deprived of … property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." But what exactly is a property right and what constitutes a taking? Seizure of land by the government may be a taking, but what about environmental or zoning regulations that place restrictions on land use? With one such taking case already before the Supreme Court, the legal battle over these questions could alter the very nature of the relationship between the rights of the individual property owner and those of society as a whole.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Race and the Census

with Ward Connerly, Ramona E. Douglassvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, February 22, 2002

Should the U.S. Census stop collecting racial and ethnic data? The 2000 census asked Americans to identify themselves according to 126 possible racial and ethnic categories, up from just 5 categories in 1990. Movements are now afoot to add even more racial categories to the 2010 census. Does the collection of all these data stand in the way of the creation of a truly color-blind society? Should we drop questions of race from the census and other government forms? Or are these data critical tools in the ongoing fight to end inequality and discrimination?

THE RED AND THE BLUE: The Cultural and Political Divide in America

with Michael Barone, Ruy Teixeiravia Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Is America a divided nation? Sharp regional voting patterns were evident in the 2000 presidential election: rural, Midwestern, and southern voters went for Bush; urban and coastal voters went for Gore. These regional voting patterns have led some to describe America as one nation with two cultures. Is this an accurate way of looking at American society? Or is America divided along economic rather than cultural lines? Just how fundamental are these differences, and what impact will they have on the American political landscape?

TEST TUBE AMERICA: Immigration

with Michael Barone, Peter Skerryvia Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, January 22, 2002

In 1965, Congress voted to change the laws that had restricted immigration into the United States for more than four decades. The Immigration Act of 1965 resulted in a wave of increased immigration that continues today. How do recent immigrant groups compare with those of the last great wave of immigration a century ago? Are they successfully integrating into American culture or threatening America's cultural stability? Should immigration once again be restricted, or should we concern ourselves with helping immigrants assimilate when they arrive?

MONEY RULES: The Role of the Federal Reserve

with Michael J. Boskin, Janet Yellenvia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Interest Rate adjustments by the Federal Reserve are among the most closely watched and anticipated of all economic policy decisions. Yet many economists believe the Fed no longer has the power it once did to regulate the economy. So just how powerful is the Fed today? What tools does the Fed have to regulate the economy, and how should they be used?

EDUCATING BY NUMBERS: Standards, Testing, and Accountability in Education

with Williamson M. Evers, Elliot Eisnervia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Will standards-based testing and accountability improve our nation's education system? In January 2002, President Bush signed into law the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2002. The act calls for a mandatory annual test in reading and math for every child in the nation in the third through eighth grades. Schools that fail to improve their students' scores may be held accountable, possibly losing some federal funding. Supporters of the act say that standards-based testing and accountability are the best ways to monitor and improve the nation's schools. Opponents say that such a regime is largely a political ploy that will do more harm than good. Who's right?

DARWIN UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Questioning Darwinism

with William Dembski, Eugenie Scottvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, December 7, 2001

More than 140 years after Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, his theory of evolution is still generating controversy. Although Darwinism is championed by the majority of the scientific community, some have claimed that Darwin's theory is bad science and have put forward their own, even more controversial theories. What should we make of these arguments? Is one such theory, known as Intelligent Design, merely creationism by another name, or is it a legitimate scientific alternative to Darwinism?

FUTURE SHOCK: High Technology and the Human Prospect

with Bill Joy, Ray Kurzweilvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, December 7, 2001

Computers more intelligent than humans? Self-replicating molecular robots? Virtual immortality? These may sound like science fiction, but some reputable computer scientists are predicting they will happen within the next several decades. What will our world be like if and when our machines surpass us in intelligence? Do the advances in biotechnology, robotics, and nanotechnology, which make intelligent machines possible, pose dangers of their own? Should we embrace such a future or try to stop it?

IN WHOSE IMAGE? Evolution and Spirituality

with William Dembski, Robert Russell, Eugenie Scottvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, December 7, 2001

Did life on earth unfold by chance or by design? According to the natural sciences and Darwin's theory of evolution, it was by chance. According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, it was by divine design. On this crucial question, science and religion appear to be irreconcilable. But are they? Does Darwinism encourage atheism? Must Christians be anti-Darwin?

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