Category Archives: Books

Principle-based Policy

Often, Americans are presented with either/or solutions – usually choices between what satisfies the Democratic party base and what satisfies the Republican party base. To me, good policy starts with sound principles. An upcoming book touches on the complex issues of immigration policy and language mandates. Following are several principles that impact my policy expectations in this area:

  1. Societies have a better chance at success when people who comply with the law are more likely to succeed than those who break the law.
  2. America was built by immigrants and needs a strong flow of immigrants bringing new ideas and work ethic to continue to be successful.
  3. It’s easier to successfully interact with people who speak the same language.
  4. Bureaucratic processes require constant review and streamlining to be effective.

So how to these principles play out to policy recommendations? That’s in the book. The recommendations as championed by a main character may surprise you.

Laitin, Language Policy and Civil War

In the upcoming book, Melting Point 2040, a lead character is identified as holding the David Laitin named professorship at the University of Chicago. While every other character  is fictional, Stanford University Professor David Laitin is not. Professor Laitin, formerly a University of Chicago professor, is a recognized expert on the role of language, religion and ethnicity on national survival. His research, much done with other academics, is interesting for its conclusions about the ability of multi-cultural societies to survive. His findings are reassuring for multi-cultural societies like the United States, India and others, but the concepts do encounter challenge. My concerns are informed by looking at national boundaries over centuries and millennia rather than within a single century. Through history, few strongly multi-cultural societies lasted more than several hundred years. To ensure survival for 1,000 years or more (without more civil war), it’s critical to understand what triggers civil wars and then avoid these conditions. For more, I recommend http://www.ninetymeetingsinninetydays.com/Civil_War.html for an overview and http://www.uclouvain.be/cps/ucl/doc/etes/documents/12.Laitin.pdf for a more detailed look at the role of language on national survival. As an aside, who came up with the name for civil wars? The word “civil” is out of place.

Why Another Blog?

As the author of an upcoming book, Melting Point 2040, I write stories about how our world could look in 2040 if we don’t solve our toughest issues. Having worked in Congress two decades ago, and then with Congress from the outside in many of the intervening years, I have become increasingly concerned that our political system is stacked against everyday Americans. Campaigns are too long. Money is too prevalent. Perhaps most importantly, the primary structure in most states forces candidates to adhere to political extremes to even get on the November ballot. There was a time when statesmen and stateswomen played key roles in policy decision-making. That time has passed. So, if I dwell on political system reform in this blog, it’s because I think systematic changes are a precursor to fixing many of these other issues.

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