American politics, then and now and other essays by James Q. Wilson PDF

By James Q. Wilson

ISBN-10: 0844743194

ISBN-13: 9780844743196

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 aspects of yank govt and society. this can be 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 fashioned thought 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 usually are not "the grumpy phrases of a conservative who cannot be reconciled to the realities of latest American life," Wilson writes. particularly, 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 liked country.

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I start with three examples of scholarly work either poorly done or badly used. The Phillips curve, formulated in the late 1950s, purported to show that for about a century there was a trade-off between inflation and unemployment: when unemployment was high, wages or prices were falling; when unemployment was low, prices were rising. There was no evidence that one thing caused the other and, as several economists were later to show, good reason to believe that one did not cause the other except in the very short run.

Upper-middle-class white northern Protestants, once the bastion of traditional conservatism, have not been converted into a liberal New Class; they have been split into two deeply opposed groups. Sidney Verba and his co-workers found that in the 1950s, this group was the most conservative identifiable segment of American opinion. By the 1970s, however, a profound change had occurred—one part of this group had become even more conservative, while another part had become very liberal. High-status WASPs are now the most polarized class in America, and to the extent that this class contributes disproportionately to political elites, these elites have become more polarized.

Not surprisingly, these ideas are more controversial and their proponents feel more embattled than did their predecessors of two decades ago. In the 1960s, the “policy intellectuals” saw themselves as priests of the established order; today, their counterparts think of themselves as missionaries in a hostile country. 19 20 AMERICAN POLITICS, THEN & NOW To find an approximate parallel, one must go back to the early years of the New Deal when the modern American governing system was first put in place.

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American politics, then and now and other essays by James Q. Wilson

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