Earlier this year, TCF fellow Thanassis Cambanis published Once Upon a Revolution: An Egyptian Story, a book following two revolutionary leaders before, during, and after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Recently, Cambanis sat down with Cicero for a wide-ranging interview on his book and Egypt's path since the revolution.
I believe this story contains much of the potential for transformative change, a change sadly still unrealized in Egypt. We have witnessed remarkable transformations at the individual level, however, and I expect that many of these activists and thinkers will play a role in Egyptian life and politics for decades to come.
The full interview is available here.
Since emerging as a candidate in the Democratic primary for the 2016 presidential election, Bernie Sanders has garnered praise from a wide range of voices for his candor and straightforwardness. Should we expect all of our candidates to be equally candid? TCF fellow Michael Cohen argues that Sanders is only able to speak as frankly as he does because of his status as a long-shot candidate:
I think he understands pretty well that he is the longest of long-shots to win the nomination. He’s running to raise issues that he believes are important and that he wants to see the Democratic Party embrace. There are few better places to do that than the presidential campaign trail—and I applaud him for it. But enough with the over-the-top praise. Sanders is doing what insurgent candidates have the freedom to do.
Read the rest of Cohen's column here.
Today's entry in the New York Times's "Room for Debate" series asks how research on Crispr-Cas9, a technology for editing human genes, can be regulated. Alexander Capron, a TCF trustee, discusses the issue in the context of Asilomar—a 1975 conference where geneticists voluntarily agreed to limit research involving splicing DNA between organisms.
A group dominated by scientists is too self-interested and unrepresentative to take on such wide-ranging issues now. We’ve come to rely on more diverse bodies, like the bioethics commissions that have advised successive presidents since 1979. The challenge for any commission is to move these issues out of federal meeting rooms and engage the general public in deliberating about them in town halls, churches, schools and living rooms across the nation. Experts can help clarify the issues but policymaking ought to arise from a more democratic process.
Read Capron's full response here.
The Century Foundation's report "How Higher Education Funding Shortchanges Community Colleges" was released today. TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg, who authored the report, spoke with Inside Higher Ed about the need to remedy the disparity in funding between community colleges and four-year institutions.
"There's a growing awareness that for the first time we're educating large numbers of low-income and working-class students. In the report, I note that 86 percent of high school graduates go on to some form of college. This is relatively new for higher education," Kahlenberg said. "A century ago you only had something like 5 percent of students who went on to higher education and received bachelor's degrees."
Yet the most funding tends to go toward highly selective four-year colleges. The report notes that per-student public funding for public community colleges stood at about $7,400 in 2011 compared to about $16,300 for public research institutions (although funding per student in public master's degree programs came in at about $7,900).
Writing for the CFA Institute, Matthew Gelfand reviews TCF fellow Edward Kleinbard's We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money. Gelfand discusses the significance of Kleinbard's book for the financial industry.
"Kleinbard has written two books in one. The first is a philosophical road map of the progressive case for economic policies on income distribution, infrastructure spending, and social insurance, among others. This discussion is of less utility to financial analysts but—despite Kleinbard’s clear philosophical leanings—is worth mentioning here because his comments on the topic establish that he is a nonideological student of fiscal policy."
"The second book-within-a-book will be of interest to financial analysts who want to understand the mechanics of fiscal policy. It is an informed instruction manual that draws on a large body of data and insightful analysis yet drives forward in layman’s terms rather than economic jargon."
The rest of Gelfand's review is available here.
Economists generally believe that workers who take jobs with new employers experience faster wage growth than those who change jobs within one organization, but recent evidence suggests that the benefits of moving for work are smaller than they used to be. However, the effects are not the same for all groups of workers. TCF fellow Mark Thoma explores the policy implications of the new evidence. In particular, workers with a period of unemployment often find it more difficult to relocate for work, but the benefit is larger when they do.
Labor market policies could help by providing assistance for unemployed workers who want to move to new areas where jobs are more plentiful. Even at the depths of the Great Recession some regions lacked enough workers, but those who needed jobs found relocating too difficult.
Read the full article at CBS MoneyWatch here.
Foreign policy analysts often look to the past in an attempt to find events analogous to present-day issues. Recently, some pundits have compared Barack Obama to Neville Chamberlain, while others have relied on the Iraq War to argue against other foreign interventions. TCF fellow Michael Cohen argues that pundits must approach contemporary issues in their own context, rather than relying on simple historical analogies.
It’s a problem that exists across the political spectrum—both for hawks, who view any willingness to utilize diplomacy or deal with nefarious regimes as another Munich and any reluctance to use military force as a concession to tyrants; and for doves, for whom every military intervention is Iraq War II and every alleged government cover-up is the Pentagon Papers redux.
Cohen's full article is available here.
As with many qualms of presidential candidates, Florida Senator Marco Rubio's latest speech on foreign policy was severely lacking in any substantial concrete policy visions. TCF fellow Michael Cohen confirms that, like many presidents, Rubio talks a big game, but rarely has much to say in terms of specific actions he would like to take if elected.
He offered the oft-heard — and untrue — GOP assertion that President Obama has retreated from the world. He assailed the president for hundreds of billions in defense cuts — cuts that are a direct result of the budget caps a Republican Congress forced on the White House. He criticized Obama for betraying American values through “the expediency of negotiations with repressive regimes,” which makes me think that if Rubio ever saw a picture of Ronald Reagan shaking hands with Mikhail Gorbachev his head might explode.
Read Cohen's full article here.
TCF fellow Thanassis Cambanis writes that Egyptian president al-Sisi is on the verge of acting like a dictator given his recent actions. The recent terrorist attacks and broken economy have left al-Sisi grasping for ways to assert and maintain his power, which has resulted in some heavy-handed tactics.
Today’s governing agenda in Egypt centers around three things: a crackdown on “terror” and dissent, maintaining a steady flow of cash from the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf, and modest economic reforms that at a minimum give the impression of vision and positive momentum.
Read the full version of Cambanis's article.
Despite the inspiring headlines and statistics emerging following the Great Recession, TCF fellow Daniel Alpert confirms that the state of the economy is in fact not as healthy as it appears in the public eye. Apparently lackluster financial effects remain such as impending inflation and lower than average employment rates.In fact, the entire post-recession economic recovery in the U.S. has been far less than stellar. Median household real incomes have not recovered and jobs created have been at lower wages than previously existing jobs. The pace of job growth has slowed significantly this year, with the percentage of the employable population actually working near a 35 year low.
Read Alpert's full article here from CNBC.