This Is How Scandinavia Got Great

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

The idea was to create in the mind of the student a sense of wider circles of belonging — from family to town to nation — and an eagerness to assume shared responsibility for the whole. The Nordic educators also worked hard to develop the student’s internal awareness… If you have a thin educational system that does not help students see the webs of significance between people… you’re going to wind up with a society in which people can’t see through each other’s lenses.

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The Conservative Mind

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

September 24, 2012
In the polarized political conflict with liberalism, shrinking government has become the organizing conservative principle. Economic conservatives have the money and the institutions. They have taken control… Conservatism has lost the balance between economic and traditional conservatism… abandoned half of its intellectual ammunition. It appeals to people as potential business owners, but not as parents, neighbors and citizens.

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The Structural Revolution

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

May 7, 2012
There are several overlapping structural problems. First, there are those surrounding globalization and technological change. Hyperefficient globalized companies need fewer workers. As a result, unemployment rises, superstar salaries surge while lower-skilled wages stagnate, the middle gets hollowed out and inequality grows… The current model, in which we try to compensate for structural economic weakness with tax cuts and an unsustainable welfare state, simply cannot last. The old model is broken… Structuralists face a tension: How much should you reduce the pain the unemployed are feeling now, and how much should you devote your resources to long-term reform?

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The Wrong Inequality

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

October 31, 2011
… two forms of inequality exist in modern America. They are related but different… The zooming wealth of the top 1 percent is a problem, but it’s not nearly as big a problem as the tens of millions of Americans who have dropped out of high school or college. It’s not nearly as big a problem as the 40 percent of children who are born out of wedlock. It’s not nearly as big a problem as the nation’s stagnant human capital, its stagnant social mobility and the disorganized social fabric for the bottom 50 percent. If your ultimate goal is to reduce inequality, then you should be furious at the doctors, bankers and C.E.O.’s. If your goal is to expand opportunity, then you have a much bigger and different agenda.

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The Unexamined Society

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

July 7, 2011
We have two traditional understandings of poverty. The first presumes people are rational. They are pursuing their goals effectively and don’t need much help in changing their behavior. The second presumes that the poor are afflicted by cultural or psychological dysfunctions that sometimes lead them to behave in shortsighted ways. Neither of these theories has produced much in the way of effective policies. Eldar Shafir of Princeton and Sendhil Mullainathan of Harvard have recently, with federal help, been exploring a third theory, that scarcity produces its own cognitive traits.

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Nice Guys Finish First

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

May 16, 2011
Different interpretations of evolution produce different ways of analyzing the world. The selfish-competitor model fostered the utility-maximizing model that is so prevalent in the social sciences, particularly economics. The new, more cooperative view will complicate all that… For decades, people tried to devise a rigorous “scientific” system to analyze behavior that would be divorced from morality. But if cooperation permeates our nature, then so does morality, and there is no escaping ethics, emotion and religion in our quest to understand who we are and how we got this way.

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The Big Society

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

May 19, 2011
Until Cameron, Britain — like the U.S. — had one party that spoke on behalf of the market (the Conservatives) and one party that spoke on behalf of the state (Labour). But Cameron is initiating a series of policies, under the rubric “Big Society,” that seek to nurture community bonds, civic activism and social capital… Cameron has unveiled a series of measures to decentralize power to local governments, to increase government transparency and to disburse welfare provisions to a variety of delivery mechanisms.

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The New Humanism

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

March 8, 2011
When you synthesize this research, you get different perspectives on everything from business to family to politics. You pay less attention to how people analyze the world but more to how they perceive and organize it in their minds. You pay a bit less attention to individual traits and more to the quality of relationships between people… Their work is scientific, but it directs our attention toward a new humanism. It’s beginning to show how the emotional and the rational are intertwined… It’ll change how we see ourselves.

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