Previous Articles

  • Revisiting Globalization April 14, 2020 by Matthew Daley - The conversation about globalization has begun anew with the onset of COVID-19 and will doubtless continue for a long time to come. The benefits of globalization for consumers have been obvious, even as elites finessed the concerns of American workers whose jobs were exported in the name of lower costs and better profits. Unions tried to hinder this export, but succeeded mainly in delaying its spread, which accelerated with the proliferation of free trade agreements (“FTA’s). (Advances in technology have probably been responsible for more job losses than globalization.) The value of FTAs to the United States became a subject of much debate with both 2016 presidential candidates pronouncing themselves in opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership, but globalization neither began with nor will end with FTAs.
  • Thinking About Things: Movies, Series, and Books March 31, 2020 by John DeQ. Briggs - Like everyone, I have been deluged with a tsunami of information about COVID-19. Each day the news delivers an endless Möbius strip of virus news, one day pretty much like the prior day but with slight differences. The cable opinion and media OpEd pieces hurling blame diatribes are the differences, and their onslaughts continue as if this were the normal response to a public health and economic catastrophe, teaching us at least two things: (1) there is no politician alive who will not seek a political advantage from a crisis, no matter how catastrophic (interesting opinion piece on that score here thanks to WDM) and (2) sadly, COVID-19 confirms what has been said for a few years now -- we have devolved into an unserious nation. We have a strong bipartisan preference for fixing responsibility and blame rather than fixing problems. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. In this country, our officials (and media siloed supporters) prefer simply to squabble while the systems begin to collapse. So, here we all are, more or less under house arrest. As a result, I have been thinking about how to pass the time and how I can make a modest positive and practical contribution…
  • The Energy Crisis and the Coronavirus Crisis March 17, 2020 by W. David Montgomery - There is a remarkable similarity between policy responses to the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s and the way responses to the Chinese coronavirus are developing. Both events were handled by Republican administrations with weak commitments to basic economic principles at their highest levels, that had to cooperate with Democratic majorities in Congress with their own ideas about how to manage markets. The oil embargo had a very small direct effect on the U.S. economy, and the direct effects of the coronavirus are not likely to be larger. The economic damage resulting from the Arab oil embargo was almost entirely self-inflicted, due to panic and poorly designed policies. Any economic damage from the coronavirus is also much more likely to arise from panic and policy errors than from the disease itself.
  • Thinking About Things: The Rise of Law and Decline of Politics March 3, 2020 by John DeQ. Briggs - I have recently finished reading an extraordinary book by Jonathan Sumption: Trials of The State and the Decline of Politics. It is one of those rare books that is as trenchant as it is short (it is about 125 pages). The book, published late last year in Great Britain, is essentially a publication of five separate lectures broadcast on BBC Radio 4 during the Summer of 2019. Sumption is a British judge and historian who served as a Justice on the UK Supreme Court from 2012 the 2018 and is only one of five people to be promoted directly from the bar to the highest court. According to one of the blurbs on the dust jacket of the paperback copy, his shaggy white hair covers “the biggest brain in Britain.” But there is nothing intimidating about the book, which is written with unusual simplicity and clarity. And while much of the focus of the book is on law and politics as they evolved in the United Kingdom, the book has considerable explicit and implicit relevance to law and politics today in the United States. The book presents in five chapters: (1) Law’s Expanding Empire; (2) In Praise of Politics; (3)…
  • What is NASA Doing? February 18, 2020 by Guest Author - President Trump’s request in his February 2020 State of the Union Address for funding “to ensure the next man and the first woman to the Moon will be American astronauts” points out the place of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) within the American ideological landscape. It reminds us — regardless of political perspective — that NASA is thoroughly an American project. It underscores the organization’s embodiment of basic aspirations of the American people and essential aspects of the American Creed, including the belief in the inherent power of the individual to go beyond himself, the understanding that the destiny of the American people includes responsibility to disseminate its capital ideals and overcome technological and scientific challenges, and the notion that exploration and discovery are commensurate with the fundamental human values promulgated in the foundational documents of the United States.
  • Who Do You Believe About Climate Change February 4, 2020 by W. David Montgomery - Who do you believe about climate change? An autistic teenager made into an oracle by the media, or a tenured professor driven into a different field of research by political investigations and conformist publishers? The comparison of Greta Thunberg and Roger Pielke is enlightening about what is true in climate science and how the climate thought-police control public expression. Thunberg, now 17, burst on the scene with a carefully staged emotional appeal to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2018. In a later speech at the Climate Action Summit, she said “How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction.”
  • Thinking About Things: Highlights of the Downward Spiral in American Education January 21, 2020 by John DeQ. Briggs - It is difficult for me to think about education in America these days without thinking about how much has changed and how much seems to have been lost. I was recently asked to submit some reflections to my alma mater, Harvard College, on the occasion of my upcoming 55th Reunion. What is set forth below is both an excerpt from and an expansion of those ruminations. There is more to say in a further effort down the road. What I said in my essay was that I had neither the will nor the energy to put down on paper all the many things that have so defiled the American educational system. But the main points I mentioned implicated the watering down of the curricula, the absence of any common knowledge base among recent graduates of all colleges, the coddling and closing of the American mind (which begins and is sustained on college campuses such as Harvard), the insidious growth of cancellation history and historical revisionism, and the scandalous ways in which influential parents pry their children into brand-name schools. These and many other aspects of higher education all bode very poorly for the future success of current undergraduates and for…
  • Thinking About Things: Annual, Decennial, and Other Observations January 7, 2020 by John DeQ. Briggs - By John DeQ. Briggs -- As we begin the ‘20’s, I find myself reflecting on the last year, the last decade, the last quarter century and even the last century. This column curates a selection of writings of interest on these things and offers some of my views as well.
  • A Tale of Two States and the Duty to Protect January 7, 2020 by Matthew Daley - By Matt Daley -- Few would argue with the view that there is a universal duty to protect the innocent and a correlative duty for private citizens to do so when government is incapable. This duty was dramatically illustrated on Sunday last in the West Freeway Church of Christ in Texas when parishioner Jack Wilson fired his legally carried, concealed handgun and stopped Keith Kinnunen who had opened fire on the congregation with a shotgun, killing two before he himself was shot. Unsurprisingly, Kinnunen had an extensive criminal record. There is little room for doubt that had he not been stopped, Kinnunen would have killed others.
  • Transsexual Terror December 31, 2019 by W. David Montgomery - The last straw was filling out a questionnaire in a new doctor’s office that asked my gender at birth, my chosen gender with at least 6 different choices, and which of 5 pairs of pronouns I preferred. I cannot remain silent on my outrage that the less than one half of one percent of the population who identify as transsexual can dictate language and behavior to the other 99.5%. The analogous group that comes to my mind is the Jacobins during the French Revolution who rewrote the French language and beheaded anyone even suspected of disloyalty to the Revolution. Just like the Jacobins, the transsexual Committee of Public Safety has its new guillotine ready for anyone who dares question its doctrines. Disputing the pseudo-scientific claims that gender is neither binary nor biological will send the dissident straight to it.