Glenn Loury invites guests from the worlds of academia, journalism and public affairs to share insights on economic, political and social issues.
Louis Putterman joins Glenn to discuss his new book, The Good, the Bad, and the Economy. Louis explains what China’s experience of Maoism and capitalism tells us about human nature. He describes recent experimental work that shows the limits of the selfish-rational-actor model, noting that human beings are social animals with motivations that are more complicated, and more interesting, than the rational pursuit of self-interest. Glenn and Louis explain the irrational side of reciprocity. Louis reviews his research linking the strength of a nation’s institutions with how much its citizens trust each other. They draw some surprising conclusions from South Korea’s “cram schools.” They conclude by speculating that the emergence of the norm favoring gender equality may be an instance where egalitarian human values are winning out over human nature.
Glenn and John discuss their weariness with being spokesmen on the “race” issue in America. John anticipates more demand for such “race talk” in the coming year, with affirmative action and voting rights cases coming before the Supreme Court. John invites Glenn to reminisce about “race talk” in the 1990s, and Glenn laments that this was when neoconservatives became just plain conservatives. They discuss being the only black person in a room full of conservatives, and Glenn recalls why he once apologized to Jesse Jackson. John explains why he’s tired of speaking about race before largely white audiences. Glenn and John discuss stop-and-frisk policing and voting rights from their “weary with race” perspectives. Glenn declares his solution to being trapped in the ghetto of racial commentary: he’s going global.
Glenn and Harold discuss the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. Harold objects to viewing it in terms of the political horse race, but Glenn disagrees. They debate the extent to which Obamacare is a triumph for social justice. Harold the liberal praises Justice Roberts’s “conservative ruling.” Regarding the law’s Medicaid expansion, Glenn and Harold discuss the latitude that states should be allowed under our system of federalism. They debate whether the judicial vetting of the law was a waste of valuable time. Harold wonders why the Tea Party has been so much more effective than Occupy Wall Street. Casting consistency aside, Glenn defends Bain Capital while objecting to the financial bailout of 2009.
Glenn and Joshua talk about President Obama’s new immigration policy, and Joshua suggests that the real political opportunists are the opponents of the mini-DREAM Act. Glenn reports on anti-Obama sentiment on Wall Street, and says the president should borrow a page from Nixon’s playbook. Josh and Glenn agree that Obama missed an opportunity for progressive political mobilization after the financial crisis. Josh describes his work fostering social development in Nairobi, Kenya and wonders why similar work isn’t much done in the US. Glenn hypothesizes about why it’s so hard to solve problems close to home.
On The Glenn Show, Ann and Glenn discuss the constitutionality of President Obama’s healthcare law. Ann suggests that the Supreme Court striking down the law might help Obama’s political fortunes. Glenn disputes this, while observing that conservatives have certainly benefited over the years from the Court’s pro-abortion rulings. They discuss the uproar over Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren’s Native American ancestry, and, invoking the career of Justice Clarence Thomas, debate the politics of affirmative action. Responding to the failed attempt to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ann thinks her formerly blue state is turning redder by the day. Glenn defends and Ann criticizes efforts to promote public employment during this recession.
On The Glenn Show, Glenn interviews his colleague John Tomasi about his new book, Free Market Fairness. John explains how economic liberties have been downplayed by political philosophers since the days of John Stuart Mill, and then suggests that John Rawls and Friedrich Hayek would have agreed on some fundamental principles of justice. In the long run, would robust economic rights be the best way to promote social justice? Glenn wants to know why, if Rawls and Hayek were in basic agreement, Rawlsians and Hayekians are today at each others’ throats. Finally, John explains how one can support both economic liberty and social justice.
On The Glenn Show, Harold makes the case for the Affordable Care Act, but Glenn wonders why Obama isn’t defending the law on the stump. In the wake of the controversy over Obamacare, Harold fears a “legislative Vietnam syndrome.” How should proponents of same-sex marriage treat those who use religion to argue against gay rights? Glenn and Harold discuss the problems with using religious arguments in the public sphere, and Harold defends the decidedly uncivil rhetoric of the writer and gay rights advocate Dan Savage. Turning to the presidential campaign, Glenn derides Obama’s attacks on Romney’s tenure in private equity. Should we be leery of a resurgent economic populism?
On The Glenn Show, John explains to Glenn why he objects to the recent firing of Naomi Schaefer Riley from The Chronicle of Higher Education after she wrote a piece attacking black studies. Glenn argues that Riley’s piece was offensive and wrong. John recalls his own critical assessment of the field, and he and Glenn discuss what black studies should be. They disagree about the state of Harvard’s influential black studies department. Glenn worries that black academics are held to a lower standard, a theme John discussed in his 2000 book Losing the Race. Glenn and John agree that black studies needs to adopt a more global approach.
On The Glenn Show, Glenn and Ann discuss the politics of President Obama’s recent endorsement of gay marriage. The two professors, both of whom have gay sons, defend the religious opponents of gay marriage against the charge of “bigotry.” They argue that religion can be a force for positive social change, such as during the civil rights movement. Ann laments that politicians so often feel they must demonize their opponents, and Glenn defends Mitt Romney’s background in private equity. Ann and Glenn compare the Occupy movement with the Tea Party and find the former lacking. Finally, they celebrate “the leisure of the theory class” and compare their different approaches to vacationing.
Glenn and Tim talk about the problem of increasing inequality in the US, which is the subject of Tim’s new book, The Great Divergence. Tim and Glenn debate international comparisons of inequality between the US and other countries. Tim explains why some common explanations of American inequality—race, gender, and immigration—don’t hold water. He argues that education, skill-based technological change, and globalization play a much stronger role. Glenn asks about the role of unions—good for equality but, perhaps, not so good for productivity. Tim recommends a less antagonistic culture of labor-management relations as a possible antidote to rising inequality.