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Thoughts on an Exceptional U.S. Labor Market
The U.S. labor market is the most laissez faire of any developed nation, with a weak social safety net and little government regulation compared to Europe or Japan. Some economists point to this hands-off approach as the source of America’s low unemployment and high per-capita income. But the stagnant living standards and rising economic insecurity many Americans now face take some of the luster off the U.S. model. In America Works, noted economist Richard Freeman reveals how U.S. policies have created a labor market remarkable both for its dynamism and its disparities. America Works takes readers on a grand tour of America’s exceptional labor market, comparing the economic institutions and performance of the United States to the economies of Europe and other wealthy countries. The U.S. economy has an impressive track record when it comes to job creation and productivity growth, but it isn’t so good at reducing poverty or raising the wages of the average worker. Despite huge gains in productivity, most Americans are hardly better off than they were a generation ago. The median wage is actually lower now than in the early 1970s, and the poverty rate in 2005 was higher than in 1969. So why have the benefits of productivity growth been distributed so unevenly? One reason is that unions have been steadily declining in membership. In Europe, labor laws extend collective bargaining settlements to non-unionized firms. Because wage agreements in America only apply to firms where workers are unionized, American managers have discouraged unionization drives more aggressively. In addition, globalization and immigration have placed growing competitive pressure on American workers. And boards of directors appointed by CEOs have raised executive pay to astronomical levels. Freeman addresses these problems with a variety of proposals designed to maintain the vigor of the U.S. economy while spreading more of its benefits to working Americans. To maintain America’s global competitive edge, Freeman calls for increased R&D spending and financial incentives for students pursuing graduate studies in science and engineering. To improve corporate governance, he advocates licensing individuals who serve on corporate boards. Freeman also makes the case for fostering worker associations outside of the confines of traditional unions and for establishing a federal agency to promote profit-sharing and employee ownership. Assessing the performance of the U.S. job market in light of other developed countries’ recent history highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the free market model. Written with authoritative knowledge and incisive wit, America Works provides a compelling plan for how we can make markets work better for all Americans.
Roles and Contributions
Foundations play an essential part in the philanthropic activity that defines so much of American life. No other nation provides its foundations with so much autonomy and freedom of action as does the United States. Liberated both from the daily discipline of the market and from direct control by government, American foundations understandably attract great attention. As David Hammack and Helmut Anheier note in this volume, "Americans have criticized foundations for... their alleged conservatism, liberalism, elitism, radicalism, devotion to religious tradition, hostility to religion in short, for commitments to causes whose significance can be measured, in part, by the controversies they provoke. Americans have also criticized foundations for ineffectiveness and even foolishness."
Their size alone conveys some sense of the significance of American foundations, whose assets amounted to over $530 billion in 2008 despite a dramatic decline of almost 22 percent in the previous year. And in 2008 foundation grants totaled over $45 billion. But what roles have foundations actually played over time, and what distinctive roles do they fill today? How have they shaped American society, how much difference do they make? What roles are foundations likely to play in the future?
This comprehensive volume, the product of a three-year project supported by the Aspen Institute's program on the Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy, provides the most thorough effort ever to assess the impact and significance of the nation's large foundations. In it, leading researchers explore how foundations have shaped or failed to shape each of the key fields of foundation work.
American Foundations takes the reader on a wide-ranging tour, evaluating foundation efforts in education, scientific and medical research, health care, social welfare, international relations, arts and culture, religion, and social change.
A Political Institution
As states across the country battle internally over same-sex marriage in the courts, in legislatures, and at the ballot box, activists and scholars grapple with its implications for the status of gays and lesbians and for the institution of marriage itself. Yet, the struggle over same-sex marriage is only the most recent political and public debate over marriage in the United States. What is at stake for those who want to restrict marriage and for those who seek to extend it? Why has the issue become such a national debate? These questions can be answered only by viewing marriage as a political institution as well as a religious and cultural one.
In its political dimension, marriage circumscribes both the meaning and the concrete terms of citizenship. Marriage represents communal duty, moral education, and social and civic status. Yet, at the same time, it represents individual choice, contract, liberty, and independence from the state. According to Priscilla Yamin, these opposing but interrelated sets of characteristics generate a tension between a politics of obligations on the one hand and a politics of rights on the other. To analyze this interplay, American Marriage examines the status of ex-slaves at the close of the Civil War, immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century, civil rights and women's rights in the 1960s, and welfare recipients and gays and lesbians in the contemporary period. Yamin argues that at moments when extant political and social hierarchies become unstable, political actors turn to marriage either to stave off or to promote political and social changes. Some marriages are pushed as obligatory and necessary for the good of society, while others are contested or presented as dangerous and harmful. Thus political struggles over race, gender, economic inequality, and sexuality have been articulated at key moments through the language of marital obligations and rights. Seen this way, marriage is not outside the political realm but interlocked with it in mutual evolution.
Ideally suited to upper-undergraduate and graduate students, Analyzing the Global Political Economy critically assesses the convergence between IPE, comparative political economy, and economics. Andrew Walter and Gautam Sen show that a careful engagement with economics is essential for understanding both contemporary IPE and for analyzing the global political economy. The authors also argue that the deployment of more advanced economic theories should not detract from the continuing importance for IPE of key concepts from political science and international relations. IPE students with little or no background in economics will therefore find this book useful, and economics students interested in political economy will be alerted to the comparative strengths of political science and other social science disciplines.
Education, Development, and the State in Cambodia, 19531998
In 1993, the United Nations sponsored national elections in Cambodia, signaling the international community's commitment to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of what was, by any measure, a shattered and torn society. Cambodia's economy was stagnant. The education system was in complete disarray: Students had neither pens nor books, teachers were poorly trained, and classrooms were literally crumbling. Few of the individuals and organizations responsible for financing, planning, and implementing Cambodia's post-election development thought it necessary to ask why the country's economy and society were in such a parlous state. The mass graves scattered throughout the countryside provided an obvious explanation. The appalling state of the education system, many argued, could be directly attributed to the fact that among the 1.7 million victims of Pol Pot's holocaust were thousands of students, teachers, technocrats, and intellectuals. In this exacting and insightful examination of the crisis in Cambodian education, David M. Ayres challenges the widespread belief that the key to Cambodia's future development and prosperity lies in overcoming the dreadful legacy of Khmer Rouge. He seeks to explain why Cambodia has struggled with an educational crisis for more that four decades (including the years before the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975) and thus casts the net of his analysis well beyond Pol Pot and his accomplices. Drawing on an extensive range of sources, Ayres clearly shows that Cambodia's educational dilemma--the disparity between the education system and the economic, political, and cultural environments, which it should serve--can be explained by setting education within its historical and cultural contexts. Themes of tradition, modernity, change, and changelessness are linked with culturally entrenched notions of power, hierarchy, and leadership to clarify why education funding is promised but rarely delivered, why schools are built where they are not needed, why plans are enthusiastically embraced but never implemented, and why contracts and agreements are ignored almost immediately after they are signed. Anatomy of a Crisis will be compulsory reading for anyone with an interest in education and development issues, as well as Cambodian society, culture, politics, and history.
To celebrate Anthony Reid's numerous and seminal contributions to the field of Southeast Asian history, a group of his colleagues and students has contributed essays for this Festschrift. In addition to introductory essays which provide personal and intellectual histories of Anthony Reid the man, there is a range of original scholarly contributions addressing historical issues which Reid has researched during his career. Divided into sections which examine Southeast Asia in the world, early modern Southeast Asia, and modern Southeast Asia, these works engage with issues ranging from the Age of Commerce and comparative Eurasian history, to nationalism, ethnic hybridity, Islam, technological change, and the Chinese and Arabs in Southeast Asia. The authors include some of the foremost historians of Southeast Asia in our generation.
Ever since George Washington warned against "foreign entanglements" in his 1796 farewell speech, the United States has wrestled with how to act toward other countries. Consequently, the history of anti-Americanism is as long and varied as the history of the United States.
In this multidisciplinary collection, seventeen leading thinkers provide substance and depth to the recent outburst of fast talk on the topic of anti-Americanism by analyzing its history and currency in five key global regions: the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, East Asia, and the United States. The commentary draws from social science as well as the humanities for an in-depth study of anti-American opinion and sentiment in different cultures.
The questions raised by these essays force us to explore the new ways America must interact with the world after 9/11 and the war against Iraq.
Contributors: Greg Grandin, Mary Louise Pratt, Ana Maria Dopico, George Yudice, Timothy Mitchell, Ella Shohat, Mary Nolan, Patrick Deer, Vangelis Calotychos, Harry Harootunian, Hyun Ok Park, Rebecca E. Karl, Moss Roberts, Linda Gordon, and John Kuo Wei Tchen.
Apocalypse Never illuminates why we must abolish nuclear weapons, how we can, and what the world will look like after we do. Tad Daley has written a book for the general reader about this most crucial of contemporary challenges. On the wings of a brand new era in American history, Apocalypse Never makes the case that a comprehensive nuclear policy agenda from President Obama, one that fully integrates nonproliferation with disarmament, can both eliminate immediate nuclear dangers and set us irreversibly on the road to abolition. In jargon-free language, Daley explores the possible verification measures, enforcement mechanisms, and governance structures of a nuclear weapon-free world. Most importantly, he decisively argues that universal nuclear disarmament is something we can transform from a utopian fantasy into a concrete political goal.