Commentary - Archive 2011

December 15, 2011

The policy vs markets debate makes for good rhetoric but lousy results. It's not if government should play a role in the economy. It's how best to do it.

The long slog of debt deleveraging (we're about halfway through) coupled with the rising risk of a global credit crunch implies the timing is right. From Erskine Bowles' CEO Fiscal Reform Council to the Occupy Wall St. movement, frustration is mounting. The need for market based, government supported, job creating policies is clear; what's missing is the will.

December 13, 2011

In September, state officials launched a new program called "No Kid Hungry" to provide federally funded school breakfasts to more children in North Carolina. This effort to fight childhood hunger is now being tested in 28 schools across the state, including one in Durham.

It's a great start toward providing quality nutrition to low-income children. But because early eating habits impact weight gain and health issues across a child's life, the need for healthy meals starts much earlier than grade school.

December 11, 2011

No one seriously disputes the fact that students from disadvantaged households perform less well in school, on average, than their peers from more advantaged backgrounds.

But rather than confront this fact of life head-on, our policy makers mistakenly continue to reason that, since they cannot change the backgrounds of students, they should focus on things they can control.

November 16, 2011

The outlook for the U.S., the EU and the global economy is unclear. Political systems buckle under the challenge of domestic, regional or global governance. Consumers hunker down, corporations sit on cash, job creation is anemic, banks and sovereigns shrink.

In this, our third column, we elaborate on the first of our five Bi-Sectoral Principles, Strength from within -- for while the U.S. does depend on others, much more important is what we do for ourselves.

November 5, 2011

Dozens of studies in the past few years have linked single genes to whether a person is liberal or conservative, has a strong party affiliation or is likely to vote regularly. The discipline of “genopolitics” has grabbed headlines as a result, but is the claim that a few genes influence political views and actions legitimate?

September 19, 2011

President Obama is racing around the country urging Americans to support his jobs bill. Yet even if Republicans agreed to everything he wants and the economy quickly bounced back, millions of Americans would still face a grim future.

The Census Bureau reported last week that more Americans are living in poverty than at any time in the past 50 years. Median household incomes have fallen to where they were 14 years ago, prompting talk of a "lost decade."

September 15, 2011

How can America reset the public-private interaction?

In our first column, we Bi-Sectoralists laid out five principles for the public and private sectors to improve internally & work better together for the public good. Better dialogue and better results are crucial if America is to be successful in its economic and political revitalization both at home and abroad. In today's column, we flesh these principles out and suggest ways to reset public-private interaction.

September 11, 2011

The counterterrorism initiative launched in response to the horrific attacks on our country 10 years ago continues to this day.

On this solemn anniversary, it is appropriate to reflect on how this initiative has fared. Those who were killed in the attacks, the police and firefighters who perished trying to save others, the soldiers and intelligence agents who have died or been injured in foreign lands and all of their families deserve no less than a candid appraisal of how we responded and an informed strategy of how to proceed in the future.

September 7, 2011

On a rainy day in October 2005, Dana Priest was escorted across the immaculate marble lobby of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia along with a pair of her editors from The Washington Post (I was one of them).

We crowded into a private, key-operated elevator that opened into a study that would have seemed almost cozy if not for the arresting artifact at the far end of the room: an American flag, scorched and battered, recovered from Ground Zero and now hanging behind the director’s desk.

September 6, 2011

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about 14.5 million Americans remained in the ranks of the unemployed in December 2010. December’s unemployment rate of 9.4 percent represented the twentieth consecutive month where the jobless rate exceeded 9 percent, the longest span with rates that high since the Great Depression.… The nation faces an ongoing and sustained employment crisis.

August 23, 2011

Cheating won’t be solved just by tighter rules and better enforcement. A century of big-time college sports tells us that much.

August 22, 2011

We're the Bi-Sectoralists. One from the private sector world of global finance and markets, one from the public sector world of foreign policy in Washington and academia. We're tired of the "you're the problem -- no, you are" finger pointing between the public and private sectors. Both are.

Both sectors need to get their own acts together, and to work better together if we're going to have any chance of revitalizing domestically and competing globally.

As a starting point, we offer five guiding principles:

August 2, 2011

A RAND report shows New York City’s bonus program for teachers did not lead to improved student achievement. Why?

July 28, 2011

For years, a group of American authors, bloggers, pundits and activists have mischaracterized the conflict with al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations as part of a broader “clash of civilizations” between Muslims and Western society.

This clash, they claim, is not just about preventing terrorist attacks but about stopping a global Islamic movement that threatens the very foundations of Judeo-Christian society.

July 11, 2011

William Darity,Jr, Arts & Sciences Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics, is taking part in the Kenan Institute for Ethics “Good Question” series, considering racial and economic disparities and how identifying as “multiracial” might change policy.

How might social policies change as more Americans identify themselves as “multiracial?”

June 9, 2011

Since North Carolina Republicans introduced a Voter ID bill in February that would require all citizens to show a photo ID before voting, one thing has become crystal clear.

State efforts are part of a nationwide drive to tighten rules on voting. In the past two months no less than 13 state legislatures, all of them controlled by Republicans, have advanced Voter ID legislation.

June 7, 2011

On May 19, state Sen. Phil Berger said that even in these difficult economic times, we need to make sure all North Carolina children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade.

Last week, Wake Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. upped the ante on this goal by announcing a special hearing related to the Leandro legal case. The judge wants to make sure that legislators meet the educational needs of North Carolina's children as required by that case.

Thank you, Senator Berger and Judge Manning. But how do we get there?

June 6, 2011

The nation recently received two contradictory signals about the importance of immigration reform. President Obama stood near the Mexican border in El Paso on May 10 and called (again) for immigration reform. The next week, Gallup released a poll showing that a scant 4% of Americans consider immigration to be the nation's most important problem. That's down from 11% four years ago.

June 6, 2011

Our elected representatives in Raleigh are now contemplating House Bill 744, which would require parents to state the citizenship status of their children when they enter public school. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Dale Folwell of Winston-Salem, pushed the bill by saying "we must have fiscal research of the impact that illegal immigration is having on North Carolina."

Well, I can save Folwell and his colleagues the trouble of passing the bill by sketching out here an estimate of the cost to state and local governments of illegal immigrants.

May 18, 2011

Sanford Professor Bruce Jentleson, who has worked on Middle East policy in the Obama and Clinton administration, writes of the need for new policy in the region.

May 9, 2011

Osama bin Laden has been killed by U.S. forces and his body buried at sea. What does it all mean?

First, this is a severe blow to al-Qaida and the entire jihadi movement. Although bin Laden was not able to actively plan attacks or engage in operations, he was the spiritual leader of the global jihad and the chief strategist for the al-Qaida network. There is no charismatic heir who can fill this void.

May 2, 2011

"Right to Know" law is an attack on women's rights.

April 2, 2011

The programs More at Four and Smart Start save tax-payers money and benefit all children in a school.

March 9, 2011

Charles Clotfelter reflects on the mass popularity of big-time college sports.

February 19, 2011

Assistant Research Professor Susanne B. Haga discusses the nature of science and current education.

February 9, 2011

David Schanzer, associate professor, discusses how the planned Congressional hearings on terrorism could benefit the country and the Muslim-American community.

January 11, 2011

Sanford Professor Philip Cook and University of Chicago Professor Jens Ludwig propose that reinstating the ban on high magazine weapons could save lives and have little impact of guns for self-defense.