There’s a non-partisan reform coalition called ‘Common Good’ that offers Americans a new way to look at law and government. They have some creative ideas about restoring common sense to all three branches of government. Their key principle is simple, but powerful. People, not rules, should prevail when assessing the effectiveness of laws and regulations. So, practicallly speaking, how do you unlock people within bureaucracies to substitute reason for inflexible rules? And how do you focus more on results than process? Many changes will be required in torder to accomplish their objectives. Philip K. Howard, the founder of the organization, has enlisted people like Bill Bradley, a Democrat, and Republicans like Alan Simpson, to advocate for changes. We’ll let you in on their thinking on this episode of our podcast.
By the scope and dimension of Chinese economic ambition it looks like their desire to make the 21st century the Chinese Century is well underway. The ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative is a massive investment project that spans dozens of countries and is said to involve the most ambitious global engineering feats since the Roman Empire. So what is China’s goal? We will explore the current Chinese thinking with Dr. Derek Scissors of the American Enterprise Institute.
Our podcast takes an unconventional look at whether the physical barrier that is being proposed to divide the United States from Mexico might be re-examined and found to have any aesthetic or redeeming value from an architectural standpoint. Ronald Rael an associate professor of Architecture at Berkeley lobs ‘an artistic and intellectual hand grenade’ into this debate with his book ‘Borderwall As Architecture’. Our conversation takes us on a journey along a wall that cuts through a ‘third nation’–the Divided States of America. He will have you imagine a wall that, despite the intended purpose of keeping people out, would serve to engage the imaginations of people on both sides in a common dialogue. Expect to hear things you’ve never considered.
Esteemed economist, Laurence Kotlikoff, can hold two seemingly contradictory views at one time. While he believes that the fiscal gap of the U.S. federal government–sum of all obligations on our books–is about 15 times the published number of $20 trillion, he’s not shy about trying to help individual Americans ‘Get What’s Yours’ from the complex Social Security system(which is also on the verge of bankruptcy). And while he believes America is now bankrupt, and in a much worse situation than Greece, he’s not beyond trying to help you develop the ‘economist approach’ to saving for retirement by way of his MaxiFi program. He considers it a revolutionary new tool in retirement planning. We try to engage Laurence Kotlikoff on all these subjects so we can improve your micro-finances even if the macro-finances of our society are in tatters.
Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson
Fellow, Economic & Social Policy
Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, got much attention for his commencement address at Harvard University(you know the place where he dropped out) suggesting that America needed to adopt a ‘universal basic income'(UBI) for its citizens. While the concept is being floated in different parts of the world, the idea of paying citizens a subsistence baseline seems far-fetched in the last Western society to truly come to grips with how to pay for health care. Yet, it’s now on the table here and Mark Hendrickson, of The Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, shares his concerns and engages in an exchange regarding the pro’s and con’s of UBI.
Out of sight, out of mind. Do you give much, if any, thought to the waste stream and how we’re doing as a society to recycle and re-use plastics, glass and other materials as the byproducts of our voracious appetite for consumption? CJ May has given lots of thought to the subject as one who has a Master’s degree from Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. He was also Yale’s recycling coordinator for twenty years and now holds the same position with the City of Waterbury, Connecticut. His opinions on where our recycling efforts are headed are his own–and are very entertaining and informed.
Michael Patrick Lynch suggests that in the sub-title of his book, ‘The Internet of Us’. Now the director of the Humanities at the University of Connecticut and the man who leads the university’s Humility and Conviction in Public Life Project sets about to determine if our society is now capable of finding common reality. He delves into what used to seem so simple and yet today seems so complicated–how do we know information is true. Just because we can Google information does not mean the information is accurate. And even more to the point, he explains how we are not just polarized in our opinions or values, but in the facts we learn as we rest comfortably in our ‘information bubbles’. Where does this isolation lead us? Take a listen and it will begin to makes more sense and require a greater willingness on our part to want to know more than we’re letting in–or letting on.
The concept of American exceptionalism is often associated with a patriotic sense that our country is better than the rest–and politicians on the left and right both throw the term around. Yet there are a number of other interpretations of that phrase. Some say our founding made us destined to be unique among all the world’s nations, built on freedom, justice, equality and liberty. However, there a more recent interpretations of the concept that are not as kind. Could we have great gifts, yes, but be ‘exceptional’ because we are an outlier among Western nation in terms of our approach to many issues, such as guns, mass incarceration, the death penalty and health care as a right? Stanford law professor, Mugambi Jouet, author of ‘Exceptional America’ joins us to discuss this critical examination of American values
Mob historian, Daniel Simone, a prolific author who co-write with Henry Hill ‘The Lufthansa Heist: Behind the Six-Million Dollar Cash Haul That Shook the World’ and, most recently, ‘The Pierre Hotel Affair’, describes the changes in organized crime approaches in the 21st century. They are certainly not gone and will never be forgotten in the annals of America crime history. As a bonus feature in this segment on organized crime is an interview with Joe Pistone, aka ‘Donnie Brasco’ and his time as an undercover FBI agent trying to break one of New York’s most powerful crime families.
In just 45 words, the American people were afforded the opportunity to tell its government what speech was protected from the overreach and restrictions inherent in all forms of government at the time. And still, to this day, we have one of the only written and durable protections of this type in the world, including other democracies. No one understands the words written in the First Amendment, like attorney Floyd Abrams, its most passionate protector. We talked to him about the many issues swirling around the First Amendment including cases he argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, including the Pentagon Papers and Citizens United. His clear explanations should be mandatory in civics classrooms across the country. And his new book, ‘The Soul of the First Amendment’, required reading.