Christopher Caldwell on a Failure of Direct Democracy
Education and Equal Opportunity

links for 2009-07-25

  • The science of politics, however, like most other sciences, has received great improvement. The efficacy of various principles is now well understood, which were either not known at all, or imperfectly known to the ancients. The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of their own election: these are wholly new discoveries, or have made their principal progress towards perfection in modern times. They are means, and powerful means, by which the excellences of republican government may be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided.
  • According to the New York Times: 'According to the Labor Department, 5 of the 10 occupations expected to add the most jobs through 2016 are “very low paying,” up to a maximum of about $22,000 a year. They include retail sales jobs and home health aides. Another 3 of the 10 are “low paying,” from roughly $22,000 to $31,000, including customer-service representatives, general office clerks and nurses’ aides.' Those are the careers that are left when high paying manufacturing and white collar jobs are shipped overseas. 8 of 10 jobs will be low or very low paying. That means the median income will surely drop over the next decade, which makes you wonder how consumption can stay robust - without borrowing.
  • [T]he creation of the university in 1868 embodied a genuinely noble democratic idea, one simultaneously embracing egalitarianism and excellence. The state of California determined to establish an elite public university that could rival any private institution on the East Coast, and one that, in addition, would be effectively tuition-free to any qualified California resident. There's something admirably American, and perhaps admirably western, about the whole notion. This would be an institution free of class and familial and financial restrictions; it would pursue excellence without regard to such feudal vestiges, and it would open up opportunity to those formerly excluded.... But it now looks as if those days are over. It won't happen overnight, and it won't happen completely. But absent an unlikely, massive injection of private funding, the university is on an inexorable glide path downward.
  • If the Democrats' health reform plan really doesn't do anything to cut costs, why is the private health care and insurance industry fighting so hard in the White House and Congress against it? Perhaps it's out of a selfless concern to protect the best health system in the world.