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  • Author: Michael A. Ledeen
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: September 11 happened when Osama bin Laden looked at us and thought we were ready to be had. We were politically divided and squabbling over everything. We clearly were not prepared to take casualties in direct combat. The newly elected president seemed unable to make a tough decision. And so bin Laden attacked, expecting to deliver a decisive blow to our national will, expecting that we would turn tail and run as we had in Somalia and that he would then be free to concentrate his energies on the defeat of local apostates, the creation of his caliphate, and the organization of Muslim revenge for the catastrophes of past centuries. Within a few months he was driven out of Afghanistan, his organization was shattered, the Arab street he had hoped to mobilize was silenced by the shock and awe of the total victory of the Americans, and he became an instrument of forces greater than himself. If he still lives, he is the servant of the Shiite mullahs, making propaganda movies and audiotapes to bolster the morale of the constantly shrinking number of his admirers, while the mullahs order his followers to martyr themselves against Iraqi civilians.
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, America, Middle East
  • Author: Charles Murray
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: This much is certain: the welfare state as we know it cannot survive. No serious student of entitlements thinks that we can let federal spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid rise from its current 9 percent of GDP to the 28 percent of GDP that it will consume in 2050 if past growth rates continue. The problems facing transfer programs for the poor are less dramatic but, in the long term, no less daunting; the falling value of a strong back and the rising value of brains will eventually create a class society making a mockery of America's ideals unless we come up with some- thing more creative than anything that the cur- rent welfare system has to offer. So major change is inevitable—and Congress seems utterly unwilling to face up to it. Witness the Social Security debate of last year, a case study in political timidity. Like it or not, we have several years to think before Congress can no longer postpone action. Let's use this time to start thinking outside the narrow proposals for benefit cuts and tax increases that will be Congress's path of least resistance.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Health, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Frederick W. Kagan
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The debate about American policy and strategy in Iraq has veered off course. A number of myths have crept into the discussion over the past two years that distort understanding and confuse discussion. It is possible and appropriate to question the wisdom of any particular strategy proposed for Iraq, including the Bush administration's strategy, and there is reason to be both concerned and encouraged by recent events there. But constructive dialogue about how to choose the best way forward is hampered by the distortions caused by certain myths. Until these myths recede from discussions about Iraq strategy, progress in those discussions is extremely unlikely.
  • Topic: Security, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, America, Middle East
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Among the more remarkable features of the U.S. economy over the past five years—through a tech-stock collapse (from which we have still not recovered), the 9/11 disaster, and numerous chastening corporate scandals —has been the extraordinary resilience of American consumers. To paraphrase H. L. Mencken, no one has ever gone broke (at least not recently) by overestimating the willingness of Americans to spend money.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The persistence of annualized economic growth of about 3.5 percent—despite crude oil prices between $50 and $60 per barrel—has led many analysts to claim that the U.S. economy has already "absorbed" the shock of $2.35-plus-pergallon prices for self-serve regular gasoline along with a rise in heating oil costs of more than 30 percent over the last year. As if to underscore their insouciance over energy costs, American consumers accelerated the volume of vehicle purchases in June, especially those of light trucks that get only twelve or thirteen miles per gallon.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Alarmists who call for American households to save more point to a steady drop in the conventionally measured U.S. saving rate to about 1 percent at the end of last year and to a rise in household debt to a level well over 100 percent of personal disposable income. The current account deficit, our external deficit, measures national dis-saving at close to 6 percent of GDP. The federal government's budget deficit contributes about 4 percentage points to national dis-saving and it, too, is the subject of considerable hand-wringing by those who point to a need for higher U.S. saving at both the household and national levels.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Roger F. Noriega
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The fourth regional Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina, on November 4–5, will be a test of courage for the region's leaders. Pressured by genuine popular dissatisfaction, they will either commit unequivocally to finish the hard work of creating economic opportunity for the region's 128 million poor, or they will let warmed-over populism undermine the consensus behind free-market reforms and democracy itself. The stakes are high, and the leaders must use the summit process to advance the reform agenda for their peoples' sake. At the summit, President George W. Bush will, no doubt, press his colleagues to reemphasize their commitments to defend democracy and the rule of law, deepen economic reforms, and expand trade as a recipe for sustained, equitable growth. But there is a significant number of Latin leaders who may try to scuttle this work plan and serve up sympathetic rhetoric to cynically court the poor.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: America, Argentina, South America
  • Author: James Q. Wilson
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: National Review, at its founding in 1955, had as its mission stating and defending a conservative view in a nation that many believed had known only a liberal tradition. It was a difficult task, not only because of liberalism's apparent supremacy, but because it was not easy to define a conservative alternative. Conservatism could mean free-market economics, the reassertion of a traditional morality, or the endorsement of a religious or classical basis for moral thought. In the spirited discussions that took place in this magazine and elsewhere, each of these views had its proponents, and—as they made quite clear—their views were often in conflict. Individualism and free-market economics could leave morality to personal and even aberrant judgments, but a revival of moral thought and a reassertion of its religious basis could easily suppress individual choice and impose regulatory restraints on the market.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Ethnic Conflict, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John E. Calfee
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: If we know anything about the American tort liability system, we know that it works badly when it gets infected by junk science. The recent Vioxx verdict in Angleton, Texas, is a case in point. The jury awarded $253 million to the widow of a man who died after taking the now-infamous pain reliever. The award will almost certainly be reduced to something like $5 million or $10 million because it ignored statutory limits on punitive damages, and it may eventually get thrown out because of mistakes by the judge. But even at “only” $10 million a case, a string of adverse Vioxx decisions would prove an expensive example of the triumph of the junk lawsuit over science. Most press accounts portray the jury's decision as simply a reflection of medical science, which supposedly has indicted and convicted Vioxx of causing excess heart attacks. This view prevailed in the four months after September 30, 2004, when Merck voluntarily pulled Vioxx from the market. Those months saw vituperous debate and criticism of both Merck and the Food and Drug Administration in leading medical journals. A renegade FDA staffer testified at congressional hearings along with other critics.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Human Welfare, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Alarmists who call for American households to save more point to a steady drop in the conventionally measured U.S. saving rate to about 1 per- cent at the end of last year and to a rise in household debt to a level well over 100 percent of personal disposable income. The current account deficit, our external deficit, measures national dis-saving at close to 6 percent of GDP. The federal government's budget deficit contributes about 4 percentage points to national dis-saving and it, too, is the subject of considerable hand-wringing by those who point to a need for higher U.S. saving at both the household and national levels.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America