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General Interest

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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. The writers--including Nobel Laureate in Economics Kenneth Arrow and bestselling authors Paul and Anne Ehrlich--lay out what our country’s principles are, whether we’re living up to them, and what can be done to bring our institutions into better alignment with them.

Contributers: David Grusky, Doug McAdam, Rob Reich, Erin Cumberworth, Debra Satz, Kenneth J. Arrow, Kim A. Weeden, Sean F. Reardon, Prudence L. Carter, Shelley J. Correll, Gary Segura, David D. Laitin, Cristobal Young, Charles Varner, Doug McAdam, Paul R. Ehrlich, Anne H. Ehrlich, Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, Donald A. Barr, Michele Elam, Jennifer DeVere Brody, H. Samy Alim and David Palumbo-Liu.

Managing the Risks of Emerging Biological and Chemical Technologies

Recent advances in disciplines such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, and neuropharmacology entail a “dual-use dilemma” because they promise benefits for human health and welfare yet pose the risk of misuse for hostile purposes. The emerging field of synthetic genomics, for example, can produce custom DNA molecules for life-saving drugs but also makes possible the creation of deadly viral agents for biological warfare or terrorism. The challenge for policymakers is to prevent the misuse of these new technologies without forgoing their benefits. Innovation, Dual Use, and Security offers a systematic approach for managing the dual-use dilemma.

The book presents a “decision framework” for assessing the security risks of emerging technologies and fashioning governance strategies to manage those risks. This framework is applied to fourteen contemporary case studies, including synthetic genomics, DNA shuffling and directed evolution, combinatorial chemistry, protein engineering, immunological modulation, and aerosol vaccines. The book also draws useful lessons from two historical cases: the development of the V-series nerve agents in Britain and the use and misuse of LSD by the U.S. Army and the CIA.

Innovation, Dual Use, and Security offers a comprehensive, multifaceted introduction to the challenges of governing dual-use technologies in an era of rapid innovation. The book will be of interest to government officials and other practitioners as well as to students and scholars in security studies, science and technology studies, biology, and chemistry.

Online Consultation and the Flow of Political Communication

The global explosion of online activity is steadily transforming the relationship between government and the public. The first wave of change, “e-government,” enlisted the Internet to improve management and the delivery of services. More recently, “e-democracy” has aimed to enhance democracy itself using digital information and communication technology. One notable example of e-democratic practice is the government-sponsored (or government-authorized) online forum for public input on policymaking. This book investigates these “online consultations” and their effect on democratic practice in the United States and Europe, examining the potential of Internet-enabled policy forums to enrich democratic citizenship.
The book first situates the online consultation phenomenon in a conceptual framework that takes into account the contemporary media environment and the flow of political communication; then offers a multifaceted look at the experience of online consultation participants in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France; and finally explores the legal architecture of U.S. and E. U. online consultation. As the contributors make clear, online consultations are not simply dialogues between citizens and government but constitute networked communications involving citizens, government, technicians, civil society organizations, and the media. The topics examined are especially relevant today, in light of the Obama administration’s innovations in online citizen involvement.

Measuring, Ranking, and Electing

In Majority Judgment, Michel Balinski and Rida Laraki argue that the traditional theory of social choice offers no acceptable solution to the problems of how to elect, to judge, or to rank. They find that the traditional model—transforming the "preference lists" of individuals into a "preference list" of society—is fundamentally flawed in both theory and practice. Balinski and Laraki propose a more realistic model. It leads to an entirely new theory and method--majority judgment—proven superior to all known methods. It is at once meaningful, resists strategic manipulation, elicits honesty, and is not subject to the classical paradoxes encountered in practice, notably Condorcet's and Arrow's. They offer theoretical, practical, and experimental evidence—from national elections to figure skating competitions—to support their arguments. Drawing on insights from wine, sports, music, and other competitions, Balinski and Laraki argue that the question should not be how to transform many individual rankings into a single collective ranking, but rather, after defining a common language of grades to measure merit, how to transform the many individual evaluations of each competitor into a single collective evaluation of all competitors. The crux of the matter is a new model in which the traditional paradigm—to compare—is replaced by a new paradigm—to evaluate.

Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference

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. In the context of this rejuvenated biology of race, the contributors to What’s the Use of Race? investigate whether race can be a category of analysis without reinforcing it as a basis for discrimination. Can policies that aim to alleviate inequality inadvertently increase it by reifying race differences? The essays focus on contemporary questions at the cutting edge of genetics and governance, examining them from the perspectives of law, science, and medicine. The book follows the use of race in three domains of governance: ruling, knowing, and caring. Contributors first examine the use of race and genetics in the courtroom, law enforcement, and scientific oversight; then explore the ways that race becomes, implicitly or explicitly, part of the genomic science that attempts to address human diversity; and finally investigate how race is used to understand and act on inequities in health and disease. Answering these questions is essential for setting policies for biology and citizenship in the twenty-first century.

Expertise, Institutions, and Representation

Public controversies over issues ranging from global warming to biotechnology have politicized scientific expertise and research. Some respond with calls for restoring a golden age of value-free science. More promising efforts seek to democratize science. But what does that mean? Can it go beyond the typical focus on public participation? How does the politics of science challenge prevailing views of democracy? In Science in Democracy, Mark Brown draws on science and technology studies, democratic theory, and the history of political thought to show why an adequate response to politicized science depends on rethinking both science and democracy.

Brown enlists such canonical and contemporary thinkers as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Dewey, and Latour to argue that the familiar dichotomy between politics and science reinforces a similar dichotomy between direct democracy and representative government. He then develops an alternative perspective based on the mutual shaping of participation and representation in both science and politics. Political representation requires scientific expertise, and scientific institutions may become sites of political representation. Brown illustrates his argument with examples from expert advisory committees, bioethics councils, and lay forums. Different institutional venues, he shows, mediate different elements of democratic representation. If we understand democracy as an institutionally distributed process of collective representation, Brown argues, it becomes easier to see the politicization of science not as a threat to democracy but as an opportunity for it.

An Electronic History of Government Media-Making in a Time of War, Scandal, Disaster, Miscommunication, and Mistakes

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 mediamaker and regulator. Looking beyond the usual focus on interfaces, operations, and procedures, Losh analyzes the ideologies revealed in government’s digital discourse, its anxieties about new online practices, and what happens when officially sanctioned material is parodied, remixed, or recontextualized by users. Losh reports on a video game that panicked the House Intelligence Committee, pedagogic and therapeutic digital products aimed at American soldiers, government Web sites in the weeks and months following 9/11, PowerPoint presentations by government officials and gadflies, e-mail as a channel for whistleblowing, digital satire of surveillance practices, national digital libraries, and computer-based training for health professionals. Losh concludes that the government’s “virtualpolitik”--its digital realpolitik aimed at preserving its own power--is focused on regulation, casting as criminal such common online activities as file sharing, video-game play, and social networking. This policy approach, she warns, indefinitely postpones building effective institutions for electronic governance, ignores constituents’ need to shape electronic identities to suit their personal politics, and misses an opportunity to learn how citizens can have meaningful interaction with the virtual manifestations of the state.

American public history--in magazines and books, television documentaries, and museums--tends to celebrate its subject at all costs, even to the point of denial and distortion. This does us a great disservice, argues William Hogeland in Inventing American History. Looking at details glossed over in three examples of public history--the Alexander Hamilton revival, tributes to Pete Seeger and William F. Buckley, and the Constitution Center in Philadelphia--Hogeland considers what we lose when history is written to conform to political aims. Questioning the resurrection, by both neocons and the left, of Alexander Hamilton as the founder of the American financial system--if not of the American dream itself--Hogeland delves deeply into Hamilton’s brutal treatment of working-class entrepreneurs. And debunking recent hagiographies of Pete Seeger and William F. Buckley, Hogeland deftly parses Seeger’s embrace of communism and Buckley’s unreconstructed views on race. Hogeland then turns his attention to the U.S. Constitution Center in Philadelphia (the location of Barack Obama’s speech on race), comparing its one-note celebration of the document to the National Park Service tours of nearby Independence Hall. The Park Service tours don’t advance any particular point of view, but by being almost purely informative with a kind of hands-on detail, they make the past come to life, available for both celebration and criticism. We should be able to respect the Constitution without being forced to our knees before it, Hogeland argues; we can handle the truth about the Framers’ intense politicking and compromises.. Only when we can ground our public history in the gritty events of the day, embracing its contradictions and difficulties, will we be able to learn from it.

The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches

The idea of America as politically polarizedthat there is an unbridgeable divide between right and left, red and blue stateshas become a cliché. What commentators miss, however, is that increasing polarization in recent decades has been closely accompanied by fundamental social and economic changesmost notably, a parallel rise in income inequality. In Polarized America, Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole, and Howard Rosenthal examine the relationships of polarization, wealth disparity, immigration, and other forces, characterizing it as a dance of give and take and back and forth causality. Using NOMINATE (a quantitative procedure that, like interest group ratings, scores politicians on the basis of their roll call voting records) to measure polarization in Congress and public opinion, census data and Federal Election Commission finance records to measure polarization among the public, the authors find that polarization and income inequality fell in tandem from 1913 to 1957 and rose together dramatically from 1977 on; they trace a parallel rise in immigration beginning in the 1970s. They show that Republicans have moved right, away from redistributive policies that would reduce income inequality. Immigration, meanwhile, has facilitated the move to the right: non-citizens, a larger share of the population and disproportionately poor, cannot vote; thus there is less political pressure from the bottom for redistribution than there is from the top against it. In "the choreography of American politics" inequality feeds directly into political polarization, and polarization in turn creates policies that further increase inequality.

Universal Insurance for All Americans

The shocking statistic is that forty-seven million Americans have no health insurance. When uninsured Americans go to the emergency room for treatment, however, they do receive care ;and a bill. Many hospitals now require uninsured patients to put their treatment on a credit card ;which can saddle a low-income household with unpayably high balances that can lead to personal bankruptcy. Why don't these people just buy health insurance? Because the cost of coverage that doesn't come through an employer is more than many low- and middle-income households make in a year. Meanwhile, rising healthcare costs for employees are driving many businesses under. As for government-supplied health care, ever higher costs and added benefits (for example, Part D, Medicare's new prescription drug coverage) make both Medicare and Medicaid impossible to sustain fiscally; benefits grow faster than the national per-capita income. It's obvious the system is broken. What can we do?In The Healthcare Fix, economist Laurence Kotlikoff proposes a simple, straightforward approach to the problem that would create one system that works for everyone ;and secure America's fiscal and economic future. Kotlikoff's proposed Medical Security System is not the "socialized medicine" so feared by Republicans and libertarians; it's a plan for universal health insurance. Because everyone would be insured, it's also a plan for universal healthcare.Participants ;including all who are currently uninsured, all Medicaid and Medicare recipients, and all with private or employer-supplied insurance ;would receive annual vouchers for health insurance, the amount of which would be based on their current medical condition. Insurance companies would willingly accept people with health problems because their vouchers would be higher. And the government could control costs by establishing the values of the vouchers so that benefit growth no longer outstrips growth of the nation's per capita income. It's a "single-payer" plan ;but a single payer for insurance. The American healthcare industry would remain competitive, innovative, strong, and private.Kotlikoff's plan is strong medicine for America's healthcare crisis, but brilliant in its simplicity. Its provisions can fit on a postcard ;and Kotlikoff provides one, ready to be copied and mailed to your representative in Congress. We're electing a new president in 2008; let's choose a new healthcare system, too ;one that works.

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