A Politics of Public Goods

Eli Lehrer

Although the federal budget has increased by trillions of dollars over the past half-century, one line item has been shrinking: the percentage of federal spending and the share of the national wealth dedicated to public goods. The provision of things like national defense, basic scientific research, and transportation infrastructure has long been a core state function. But a shift in spending away from these goods and toward social insurance has correlated both with the growth of the state and a decline in the respect Americans have for it. Prioritizing public goods again could restore the prestige of government, increase America's social and economic dynamism, and offer a democratically acceptable way to restrain the size of government.

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Congress Indispensable

Philip Wallach

The problems that beset the U.S. Congress have driven many observers to conclude that the institution is obsolete and should just get out of the way and let the president govern. But Congress is no anachronism. The very features that would-be reformers find most exasperating — its messiness, balkiness, and cacophony — are actually those that render our federal legislature uniquely capable of maintaining the bonds that hold together our sprawling republic. A stronger and more confident Congress is increasingly essential. 


the public interest

Science and ideology in economics

Robert M. Solow

The Public Interest was a quarterly public policy journal founded by Irving Kristol and Daniel Bell in 1965. Throughout its four decades of publication, ending in 2005, it offered incomparable insight and wisdom on a vast range of challenges at the intersection of public affairs, culture, and political economy—helping America better understand and govern itself in a tumultuous time. National Affairs now hosts its archives, free of charge.

The Case for Proportional Voting

Lee Drutman

American voters are increasingly unhappy with the choices our polarized two-party system affords them. But our electoral system seems to leave citizens without other options. It doesn't have to be this way. Larger, multi-member districts in the House of Representatives, with members chosen by ranked-choice voting, offer an appealing (and constitutionally permissible) place to start.

Taking On the Scourge of Opioids

Sally Satel

Major swaths of our country are experiencing an unprecedented epidemic of deadly drug abuse. An estimated 2.1 million Americans abuse or are addicted to opioids. But because this epidemic has not hit the major cities where our politics and culture are centered, the public and political response has been shockingly slow and halting. Now that our leaders increasingly do see this massive crisis, how can they best help to address it?

After Federalist No. 10

Greg Weiner

Federalist No. 10 is rooted in timeless political truths, but also in some less permanent assumptions. Madison assumes politics will occur at a leisurely pace. He imagines a government that does not concern itself with economic minutiae. And he is able to take for granted a reasonably broad consensus as to the existence if not the content of the public good. These assumptions may now be collapsing. So how can Madison's vision be restored and secured?


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