Social Policy

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

By James Q. Wilson

James Q. Wilson is one among 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 elements of yankee govt and society. it is a choice of fifteen of Wilson's so much insightful essays-drawing on thirty years of his observations on faith, crime, the media, terrorism and extremism, and the old school suggestion of "character." Readers of each political persuasion will come clear of this quantity with a brand new figuring out of ways American politics and tradition have developed during the last half-century. those essays usually are not "the grumpy phrases of a conservative who cannot be reconciled to the realities of up to date American life," Wilson writes. relatively, they're directly 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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If something works in one circumstance, it will also work in another similar circumstance. The case for analogical reasoning is stronger where there are more similarities between two situations, but it can rarely, if ever, be conclusive. Two situations may be different in some important but unsuspected feature. The closest we may come to making a conclusive argument is when the research involves the evaluation of a controlled experiment; the next closest involves the evaluation of a quasi-experiment supplied by historical circumstance.

So also with supply-side economics. What is most striking about this theory is not the weight of evidence and argumentation mustered on its behalf, but the fact that in the space of a few short years it has fundamentally altered the terms of debate about economic policy. Not too long ago it was still possible, albeit only with some major simplification, to explain to students that macroeconomic policy was either Keynesian or monetarist. Now there is a third (and possibly a fourth or fifth) contender.

The intellectual abilities of the students, it turned out, were far more important than their ethnic or class characteristics in producing this desirable balance. Second, the more effective schools had a distinctive ethos: an emphasis on academic achievement, the regular assignment of homework, the consistent and fair use of rewards (especially praise) to enforce agreed-upon standards of conduct, and energetic teacher involvement in directing classroom work. Subsequent research by others has generally confirmed the Rutter account, so much so that educational specialists are increasingly discussing what has come to be known as the “effective schools” model.

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