CategoryLaw

Changing Policing for the Better

C

The Scottish essayist Thomas Carlyle once stated that “The history of the world is but the biography of great men.” William J. Bratton may not deserve the accolade “great” (unless you ask his opinion), but when it comes to the history of policing few men have been more influential. There is little doubt that in the last three decades of the twentieth century Bratton changed policing for the...

Constitutional Change and Continuity

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We are grateful for the three interesting responses to our essay on constitutional amendments. Each response raises significant issues. We appreciate Greg Weiner’s kind compliments on our essay. We agree with him that excessive veneration of the Constitution and its founders may prove an obstacle to the amendment process (although we do not believe it is the principal culprit). In our work, we...

What’s in Your Wallet?

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To help foot the bill for the “Build Back Better” budget reconciliation bill—originally slated to cost $3.5 trillion—the Biden administration proposed an unprecedented measure for collecting revenue: conscripting banks and credit unions to help the IRS set up a financial profile for nearly everyone in America. In a May list of proposals for raising revenue, the Biden Treasury Department laid out...

The Purpose of a Liberal Education

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When my son was seven years old, he could reel off all the stats anyone would ever need to know about Detroit Tigers baseball. Batting averages, RBIs, home runs, or stolen bases—he knew them all. Of course, his prodigious prowess for Tigers stats wasn’t in fulfillment of a homework assignment or from a promise that such knowledge was practically “useful.” I never had to tell him, “Now, go study...

Decadence and Progress in a New Foundation

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The Apple TV series Foundation—already renewed for a second season—aims to become the defining story of Progress for this decade. This comes 80 years after Isaac Asimov first proposed his series of Foundation short stories to John W. Campbell, editor of Astounding Science Fiction. Those stories became a trilogy (you can read my essay on it), then eventually a larger storytelling universe...

Classical Education for All

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The vision of American public education is compelling: Access to the basic skills and knowledge needed for citizenship within a modern democracy for all children, with the cost borne by property owners in each county. In less than two centuries, that vision has resulted in hundreds of thousands of schools spread across the United States. The buildings are there, but the core promise of American...

The Limits of the Egalitarian Vision

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Most of the discussion about the reconciliation bill proposed by the Biden administration concerns the amount of its spending—the so-called top-line number. That public focus is not surprising. One and three-quarter trillion dollars, even if it is cut down from twice that amount, is a lot of money for the government to redistribute by anyone’s calculation. But another central fact about the...

The Right Way to Venerate the Constitution

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In 1791, James Madison addressed Congress on the topic of a National Bank. The Philadelphia Convention, he said, had explicitly declined to authorize Congress to issue articles of incorporation. The “peculiar nature” of the government the Constitution created was that its powers were enumerated rather than plenary. Even necessary powers could not be summoned by implication. “Had the power of...

Chosen to Be Free

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Ruth R. Wisse’s new autobiography, Free as a Jew, is a powerful warning against the loss of freedom—not only that of Jews, in Israel and in the diaspora, but that of all civilized humanity. A self-described conservative devoted to classical liberalism, she rejects the leftism of her fellow academics and most of her co-religionists. Yet the stunning success of her teaching over five decades proves...

A Maxim for Power-Skeptical Conservatism

A

Mel Bradford’s masterful Original Intentions contains an almost throwaway line that caught my attention upon a recent re-reading. The phrase has come to mind again and again ever since. It occurs to me that it contains a once-commonplace conservative truth that has now been obscured by the ongoing debate over the “postliberal” right. Speaking of the Rhode Island ratification convention, Bradford...