Glenn Loury invites guests from the worlds of academia, journalism and public affairs to share insights on economic, political and social issues.
On The Glenn Show, Glenn talks to Steve about his recent research on American politics. Steve explains how political parties change positions, looking specifically at conservatives’ embrace of prison reform. Is Republican leadership the only way prison reform will actually happen? Glenn and Steve debate the (de)merits of moral argument on behalf of less punitive prison policy. They next dicsuss what Steve calls “kludgeocracy“—the increasing complexity of social policies in the US, citing the Affordable Care Act as a prime example. Steve explains his concerns about the inefficiency and non-transparency of federal-state collaborations on education and Medicaid. They conclude with some reflections on Django Unchained.
On The Glenn Show, John describes the book he’s writing on how language does and doesn’t shape our view of the world. Glenn reports on the economists’ annual conference, including a caucus of African-American scholars who gathered there. John and Glenn reminisce about being declared “outcasts” by their black professional peers. Glenn remembers the work of the great and recently deceased social scientist Albert Hirschman, and they speculate on what “true loyalty” to one’s group, nation or culture might mean. Has the era of the towering public intellectual passed? They conclude by expressing their very different views about the affirmative action case pending before the Supreme Court.
Josh and Glenn bring in the New Year on The Glenn Show. They discuss the larger significance of fiscal cliff showdown. Turning to a review of Campaign 2012, Glenn asks about the deeper meaning of Obama’s decisive victory. Poverty received little attention during the election—could the theory of justice advanced by philosopher John Rawls be a remedy? Next, a few of the best pieces published last year by Boston Review, the intellectual magazine Josh has edited for two decades: a forum on effective early childhood interventions, a report on the teaching of philosophy to high school students in Brazil, and an interview with author Junot Diaz.
On The Glenn Show, Ann and Glenn look back on 2012—but wait, is all this year-in-review stuff a waste of time? They discuss what the election was really about, and the inherently non-rational aspect of politics. Ann sermonizes on the response to the Newtown shooting. Glenn insists that the children killed in Newtown and young people killed as a result of drug violence in Chicago are equally innocent victims. Has the press given Obama a pass on Benghazi and drone strikes? Finally, Glenn endorses Quentin Tarantino’s controversial new movie, Django Unchained.
On The Glenn Show, Glenn asks Harold whether social science can make sense of the massacre in Newtown. Harold is disturbed by the way that gun manufacturers advertise their wares and by the “fundamental unreasonableness” of many gun enthusiasts. They also debunk some pernicious myths about guns. Looking back at the election, Harold tries to cure Glenn of his political cynicism. Glenn expresses skepticism about the triumphal narrative of immigration reform. They close with a personal discussion of the generational divide over issues like same-sex marriage.
Corey acts as host of The Glenn Show, interviewing Glenn about his writings on race and affirmative action. Going back forty years, Glenn explains the evolution of his views on the legitimacy of racial preferences. Corey asks about the objection that affirmative action stigmatizes its beneficiaries. Corey notes that there was a time “when affirmative action was white.” The two disagree about Chief Justice Roberts’s view that legally enforced segregation in the past is necessary to justify racial assignment of students to public schools in the present. Glenn stresses the importance and ineradicable nature of racial discrimination in the intimate private sphere. Glenn considers what he would say to the more conservative Glenn of the 1980s. They conclude by discussing the so-called “mismatch hypothesis.”
Glenn and Louis discuss the causes of economic inequality among nations, based on Louis’s recent book, The Good, the Bad, and the Economy. Louis describes the different hypotheses explaining global inequality, contrasting them with his own focus on cultural attitudes propagated across generations within ethnic groups. Glenn wonders whether a history of conquest, colonization and enslavement and/or possible genetic differences between populations might explain some of Louis’s findings. Can the countries left behind ever catch up? Glenn suggests that modern communications technology is making cultural differences across nations less relevant. So is foreign aid a waste of money? And does democracy follow economic growth, or vice versa?
On The Glenn Show, Glenn and John discuss the aftermath of the election. John says that the less duplicitous candidate won, but Glenn disagrees. They explore the prospects for the second Obama administration, with John predicting more cooperation with Congress and Glenn predicting more gridlock. Can the GOP adapt to the country’s changing demographics? John thinks the Tea Party is over, while Glenn argues that it has only just begun. Did Netanyahu bet on the wrong horse in the US election? John and Glenn conclude by offering their respective views on what an Obama defeat would have meant for African-Americans.
The Glenn Show once again lives up to its name with another father-son conversation about politics and religion. Glenn the son criticizes his father for having doubted Obama’s reelection. Glenn the father is troubled by the sharp splits in voting patterns along class and ethnic lines. The two argue over whether Obama or Romney ran the more negative campaign. The son objects to post-election grumbling on the right that he thinks smacks of racism. Can the GOP recover? They end with some talk about religion. Glenn the father expresses doubt about his religious doubt. He asks his son to come to church and see for himself what goes on there, but his son respectfully declines to do so.
On The Glenn Show, Glenn and John discuss the role of race in the presidential election. John predicts Obama will win—but, should Romney somehow prevail, John preemptively rejects the “Obama lost because he’s black” argument. Glenn thinks, whether pro or con, that it’s infantile politics to focus on Obama’s race. John argues that Obama has actually been quite a pro-black president. Glenn imagines how Romney’s election might actually be good for blacks, and enumerates ways in which the policies of the Democratic Party and the interests of blacks do not align. John, citing the sociologist William Julius Wilson, advocates that progressive politics should focus on class, not race. Finally, Glenn explains why he thinks, despite the polls, that Romney just might win.