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?
It is estimated that Colombia produces 90 percent of the cocaine and 65 percent of the heroin consumed in the United States. In July of 2000, with bipartisan support, President Clinton signed a $1.3 billion aid package for Colombia to help that country with its war on drugs. The package includes providing the Colombian Army with military helicopters and U.S. military advisors. Will the aid package succeed in stemming the flow of drugs from Colombia, or will it entangle the United States in Colombia's bloody civil war? Will American soldiers lose their lives fighting the drug war in Colombia? Is this a necessary escalation of our own war on drugs or a bad idea?
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?
For more than thirty years, the United States has been waging a war on drugs. This war—which takes the form of billions of dollars spent each year on drug law enforcement and interdiction, as well as harsh sentencing for drug offenses—is being called a failure by many critics. But if it is a failure, is drug legalization the solution? Just how would legalization work? And would the benefits of legalization outweigh the costs?
Why are so many in Silicon Valley, from the cubicles to the boardrooms, likely to be libertarians, or technolibertarians, as some have called them? What do these technolibertarians believe about the role of government and entrepreneurship? How will they use the massive wealth that’s been created in Silicon Valley during the past several decades? Are they promoting the public welfare or shirking responsibility by not participating in the political process?
Is our patent system failing the new information economy? Critics say that the way that patents are being granted on computer software and on Internet business methods threatens to impede technology and commerce rather than encourage it. Can industry resolve intellectual property problems on its own? Should we overhaul the patent system or just the U.S. Patent Office?
Guests predict that, in the near future, most people will no longer use cash, but rather conduct all financial transactions electronically. These transactions will be instantaneous, secure, and invisible and will remake the entire global economy. What will happen when governments can no longer control or tax the flow of capital? According to our guests, nothing less than a revolution.
The United States leads the developed world in spending on health care, at nearly 15 percent of our GDP. But based on measures such as life expectancy at birth, Americans receive a lower level of care than do the citizens of many countries that spend less. What's wrong with health care in America? And how should we fix it? Peter Robinson speaks with John F. Cogan and Alain Enthoven.
With the arrival of anthrax letters in Washington, New York, and Florida in the fall of 2001, the often-ignored threat of bioterrorism became a very frightening reality, causing illness and death and costing billions of dollars. How has this attack changed our assessment of the threat of biological and chemical weapons? What can and should be done to detect and control these weapons and defend ourselves against future attacks?
Despite overwhelming victories by our armed forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States military establishment is caught up in a major debate on the structure of the military. On one side are traditionalists who emphasize the importance of large ground forces. On the other side are reformers who want our forces to be lighter, smaller, faster, and more high-tech. What are the lessons of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Who's right, the traditionalists or the reformers?
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?
An eighteen-year civil war between the Arab north and the African south has created a humanitarian crisis in Sudan. Secretary of State Colin Powell has said of Sudan, "There is perhaps no greater tragedy on the face of the earth today." President George W. Bush has promised, that under his administration, foreign involvements would take place only where direct American interests are at stake. Does the tragedy in Sudan warrant direct U.S. involvement? If so, just what can, and should, the United States do?
In 2001 President Bush established a bipartisan commission to study and report recommendations for restoring fiscal soundness to the current Social Security program. All three of the commission's models for reforming the system included the creation of individually controlled retirement accounts—a process commonly referred to as "privatizing Social Security." Some critics of the proposals argue that Social Security is not in as much trouble as the president's commission would have us believe and that major reform is unnecessary. Other critics say that creating private accounts will compound Social Security's problems rather than solve them. Who's right, the president's commission or its critics?
Almost everyone agrees on the importance of keeping our air and water pollution-free. But how much are we willing to pay and for what measure of protection? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been criticized for setting clean air standards without regard for the costs of meeting those standards. Critics of this approach argue that failing to weigh costs and benefits could threaten economic growth, which has its own implications for public health. How should the EPA set its standards? Can cost-benefit analysis lead to standards that are both efficient and effective?
Are peacekeeping missions undertaken by the United Nations a good idea? Is there a difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking? What sort of conflicts should the UN become involved in and which should it avoid? What are the alternatives to UN peacekeeping missions? Why have the number of UN missions increased so dramatically since the beginning of the 1990s?
Following World War II, Japan reinvented itself both politically, as it adopted the institutions of democratic government, and economically, as it became a dominant producer and exporter of consumer goods. These reforms were so successful that, ten years ago, experts were predicting that Japan would overtake the United States as an economic superpower. Instead, Japan experienced a decade of recession and economic stagnation that continues still. What happened? Is this a sign of serious structural problems in Japan's political and economic institutions? In other words, is it time for Japan to reinvent itself once again? If so, how should the United States alter its relationship with a new Japan?
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?
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?
Is democracy—that is, free elections—to be desired at all times for all nations? Or are nations more successful when they establish the rule of law, property rights, and other constitutional liberties first? For the United States, this is no longer an academic question. America is deeply involved in nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq. Should the establishment of democracy in these countries be the first priority for the United States, or is securing public order and the rule of law more important?
How has the status of women in America improved over the past forty years of feminism? As past problems have been solved, have new ones been created? What are the most important issues for the women's movement today? For that matter, just how much do women agree on what it even means to be a feminist?