In Giving Kids a Fair Chance, Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman argues that the accident of birth is the greatest source of inequality in America today. Children born into disadvantage are, by the time they start kindergarten, already at risk of dropping out of school, teen pregnancy, crime, and a lifetime of low-wage work. This is bad for all those born into disadvantage and bad for American society.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has ignited new questions about the relationship between democracy and equality in the United States. Are we also entering a moment in history in which the disjuncture between our principles and our institutions is cast into especially sharp relief? Do new developments--most notably the rise of extreme inequality--offer new threats to the realization of our most cherished principles? Can we build an open, democratic, and successful movement to realize our ideals? Occupy the Future offers informed and opinionated essays that address these questions.
Kosovo, after its incorporation into the Serbian Republic of Yugoslavia, became increasingly restive during the 1990s as Yugoslavia plunged into internal war and Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian residents (Kosovars) sought autonomy. In March 1999, NATO forces began airstrikes against targets in Kosovo and Serbia in an effort to protect Kosovars against persecution. The bombing campaign ended in June 1999, and Kosovo was placed under transitional UN administration while negotiations on its status ensued. Kosovo eventually declared independence in 2008.
The Obama administration promises to take on comprehensive immigration reform in 2010, setting policymakers to work on legislation that might give the approximately eleven million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States a path to legalization of status. Commentators have been quick to observe that any such proposal will face intense opposition.
The post–civil rights era perspective of many scientists and scholars was that race was nothing more than a social construction. Recently, however, the relevance of race as a social, legal, and medical category has been reinvigorated by science, especially by discoveries in genetics. Although in 2000 the Human Genome Project reported that humans shared 99.9 percent of their genetic code, scientists soon began to argue that the degree of variation was actually greater than this, and that this variation maps naturally onto conventional categories of race.
There is nothing wrong with economics, Dean Baker contends, but economists routinely ignore their own principles when it comes to economic policy. What would policy look like if we took basic principles of mainstream economics seriously and applied them consistently?
More than ever, Americans rely on independent special districts to provide public services. The special district—which can be as small as a low-budget mosquito abatement district or as vast as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey—has become the most common form of local governance in the United States. In Governing the Tap, Megan Mullin examines the consequences of specialization and the fragmentation of policymaking authority through the lens of local drinking-water policy.
The emerging metropolitan regional-equity movement promotes innovative policies to ensure that all communities in a metropolitan region share resources and opportunities equally. Too often, low-income communities and communities of color bear a disproportionate burden of pollution and lack access to basic infrastructure and job opportunities. The metropolitan regional-equity movement—sometimes referred to as a new civil rights movement—works for solutions to these problems that take into account entire metropolitan regions: the inner-city core, the suburbs, and exurban areas.
Today government agencies not only have official Web sites but also sponsor moderated chats, blogs, digital video clips, online tutorials, videogames, and virtual tours of national landmarks. Sophisticated online marketing campaigns target citizens with messages from the government—even as officials make news with digital gaffes involving embarrassing e-mails, instant messages, and videos. In Virtualpolitik, Elizabeth Losh closely examines the government's digital rhetoric in such cases and its dual role as media-maker and regulator.