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.
During the past decade, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have been able to capture a majority of the vote in national elections. In fact, the country hasn't been so evenly divided since the 1870s. Some say this is evidence of a culture war and a political divide that has split the country into two Americas. Others disagree, arguing that in fact most Americans are in the moderate middle and are divided on relatively few issues. Who's right?
More than eighty years ago, President Woodrow Wilson presided over the U.S. entry into the First World War, promising that it would be "the war to end all war." Wilson promoted "peace without victory" and the creation of a League of Nations with the power to enforce the peace thereafter. At that time, Wilson's vision was dismissed by European and American leaders alike as naive idealism. Today, however, Robert S. McNamara, former U.S. secretary of defense, believes that Wilson's vision is essential to reducing the risk of conflict and war in the twenty-first century.
The traditional notion of marriage, that of a union between one man and one woman, goes back thousands of years in cultures from around the world. But at the beginning of the 21st century, a debate is building in this country over the definition of marriage, specifically over the issue of same sex marriage. Are two men, or two women, in a committed relationship entitled to the sanctions and legal benefits of marriage? What roles will popular sentiment and judicial activism have in the struggle to redefine marriage?
The decades of the 1980s and 1990s seem to offer two different fiscal models for promoting economic growth. The 1980s under President Reagan suggest that cutting taxes is more important than balancing the budget. The 1990s under President Clinton suggest the importance of balancing the budget with moderate tax increases. Yet the results in each decade were similar: sustained economic growth. President George W. Bush has clearly been following the Reagan model in his first term: enacting large tax cuts even as the federal budget approaches record deficits. But has the Bush team taken the correct lessons from our recent economic past? Do the Bush policies promote long-term growth or jeopardize it?
Just two years ago, in the 2000 fiscal year, the annual federal budget had a surplus of $236 billion. Now the federal government is facing a budget deficit of more than $150 billion, possibly much more. And whereas during the presidential campaign of 2000, the candidates were debating how to spend trillions in expected future surpluses, the Congressional Budget Office is now projecting a cumulative $1 trillion deficit by 2011. What happened to the surplus, and what is to blame for the return of the deficit? Is it President Bush's tax cut? Or was it the recession of 2001 and the war on terrorism? In light of the deficit, what should we make of the president's budget plans?
On March 14, 2004, Russians head to the polls to choose a president. Current president Vladimir Putin is expected to win a second term by an overwhelming margin. Will this be a genuine democratic show of support for a popular leader or the result of a corrupt political system headed towards dictatorship? When President Bush first met President Putin in June 2001, he declared, "I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.... I was able to get a sense of his soul." Is Putin the trustworthy leader that Bush saw or something much more dangerous?
In October 2001, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, Congress passed, and President Bush signed, the USA Patriot Act. The law is intended to prevent future terrorist acts by enhancing various law enforcement tools. Critics argue that the Patriot Act is a dangerous infringement on American civil liberties. Now, more than two years after the passage of the Patriot Act, do we have any evidence that the critics are right? For that matter, do we even know whether the Patriot Act is working to deter terrorism? Should the Patriot Act be allowed to expire, or should its provisions become a permanent part of the war on terrorism?
In October 2004, the school board in the small town of Dover, Pennsylvania, ordered its high school biology teachers to preface classes on evolution with the statement: "Darwin's Theory is a theory not a fact. Gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence." As an alternative to evolution, the school board suggested "intelligent design," a theory holding that life on earth could not have developed at random. Are there gaps in the theory of evolution that undermine its credibility? What should we make of "intelligent design"? And just what should we be teaching our children about the development of life on earth? Peter Robinson speaks with Massimo Pigliucci and Jonathan Wells.
The year will be remembered as a difficult one for the Catholic Church in America. Sex abuse scandals and criticism of the church's response to those scandals dominated the headlines for months. Sexual abuse is not the only subject creating controversy within Catholic circles. Other divisive matters include the role of women within the church, gay priests, and the relation of American bishops to the Vatican. Is the Catholic Church in danger of losing its constituency in America? Are substantial reforms in the structure and teachings of the Catholic Church necessary? Or are reforms what got the church in trouble in the first place?
In late 2001, in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration proposed the USA Patriot Act, which gave law enforcement agencies expanded surveillance and intelligence-gathering powers. Congress overwhelmingly approved the Patriot Act on the condition that most provisions of the act would expire in 2005. President Bush now wants all provisions of the act extended. Should they be? Or are the provisions dangerous and unnecessary infringements on our civil liberties? Peter Robinson speaks with Jenny Martinez and John Yoo.
After two decades of reform, Stalin and Mao wouldn't recognize Russia and China today. But each state has taken a different path away from their communist past. Russia has emphasized democratic reforms while enduring economic instability. China has promoted economic growth based on market reforms, while maintaining tight control over politics. Which path will prove to be more successful, Russia's or China's?
In 1965, Congress established the National Endowment for the Arts, declaring that it was "necessary and appropriate" for the government to fund the arts. We examine the question of whether the NEA really is "necessary and appropriate." What are the consequences of the government awarding money to individual artists? What role does the NEA play in arts education? In short, has the NEA been a success or not?
Art and images from the latest edition of the Hoover Digest
Hoover fellows are famous as generators of ideas, but they’re just as active in getting their insights into the hands of leaders in policy, business, and public opinion. Among Hoover’s range of programs for making those connections is the Leadership Forum, which brings influential members of the policy, business, and international community to Hoover for a 360-degree primer on the policy challenges and solutions at the top of Hoover fellows’ minds.
A class essay condemning rape was ‘unnecessarily provocative,’ the Title IX coordinator allegedly said.
On March 14, 2005, a California Superior Court judge ruled that the state's ban on same-sex marriage violated the state constitution. Although the decision is certain to be appealed up to the California Supreme Court, California may now be on the road to joining Massachusetts in legalizing gay marriage. Did the Superior Court judge decide correctly? Just how compelling are the constitutional arguments for and against gay marriage? Peter Robinson speaks with Terry Thompson and Tobias Wolff.
Spurred in part by a Congressional Act which allowed universities to patent the results of federally-funded research, corporate contributions to academic research programs grew from $850 million in 1985 to over $4 billion by the early 1990s. In return corporations receive licenses to the patents generated by that research. Do these new academic-corporate relationships threaten the traditional functions of our universities to educate and to serve the public good? Or does corporate funding serve the public good by bringing the fruits of research to the public sooner and more efficiently?
Does outsourcing—whether it means the transfer of customer service and high-tech jobs to India or of manufacturing jobs to China—benefit the American economy or harm it? And if American workers are being harmed by outsourcing, what should be done about it? Do we need legislation to prevent corporations from sending jobs overseas? Or should we focus our attention on creating new opportunities for the American labor force through education and job training?