By James Q. Wilson
James Q. Wilson is one in all America's preeminent public coverage students. for many years, he has analyzed the altering political and cultural panorama with readability and honesty, bringing his knowledge to endure on all features of yank executive and society. it is a selection of fifteen of Wilson's such a lot insightful essays-drawing on thirty years of his observations on faith, crime, the media, terrorism and extremism, and the old school concept of "character." Readers of each political persuasion will come clear of this quantity with a brand new realizing of the way American politics and tradition have advanced over the past half-century. those essays aren't "the grumpy phrases of a conservative who cannot be reconciled to the realities of up to date American life," Wilson writes. quite, they're immediately speak from a painstaking empiricist and consummate social scientist who believes in American exceptionalism. American Politics, Then & now's a compelling portrait of a cherished state.
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There is little point in denouncing theory as an inadequate substitute for experience, knowledge, or prudence (which it is); it will be propounded, it will affect policy, and those skilled at formulating it will rise in influence. Moreover, theorizing is not the same as empty talk. Good theory calls attention to obvious truths that were previously overlooked, finds crucial flaws in existing theories, and reinterprets solid evidence in a new light. And some theories, if adopted, will make us all better off.
It is rather a moral and political one—how much of an increase in the number of addicts will you tolerate for a given decrease in the amount of crime by addicts? As conventionally set out in intellectual discussions, that question is usually skirted in favor of the confident assertion that there are no important trade-offs. Now let me offer three examples of intellectual work well done. For decades, economists have attempted to estimate the effects on consumer welfare of government regulation of prices and government restrictions on “POLICY INTELLECTUALS” AND PUBLIC POLICY 27 entry in a variety of industries.
But as Allan H. ” The theory retained its grip on the minds of many economists and even more policymakers for the better part of two decades. Policies enacted in its name served to increase inflation without decreasing unemployment. The doctrine of mutual assured destruction (MAD) is an exquisitely complex exercise in strategic logic based on a quite simple premise: one nation will not attack another if it knows in advance that it will be destroyed by its victim’s retaliatory capacity. As it evolved among American defense intellectuals and military planners, it required that both the United States and the Soviet Union make their cities hostage to one another’s atomic weapons.
American politics, then and now and other essays by James Q. Wilson