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By James Q. Wilson

James Q. Wilson is certainly one of 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 undergo on all elements of yank executive 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 concept of "character." Readers of each political persuasion will come clear of this quantity with a brand new realizing of the way American politics and tradition have advanced 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. quite, 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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Sample text

Coleman and his colleagues. The original findings of the Coleman Report, put baldly, were that differences in the readily measureable features of schools—expenditures, pupil-teacher ratios, building quality, and the like—had little or no effect on academic achievement once you controlled for the family background of the pupils, and this was true for both whites and blacks. The original Coleman data were subject to the most intensive reanalysis by a variety of scholars, including Christopher Jencks, David Armor, David Cohen, and many others.

Thus decriminalizing heroin in an effort to reduce crime among confirmed addicts will have the effect of increasing the number of addicts, probably by a very large number. The number of known addicts in England increased dramatically when heroin was easily available; what is known today as the English system was the result of an effort to reduce the drug’s availability by placing it under tighter government control. There are important disputes about some of the facts (how many addicts steal because they are addicts, how elastic the demand for heroin may be), but the essential issue is not a factual one at all.

22 AMERICAN POLITICS, THEN & NOW It became a widely accepted “fact,” for example, that sluggish economic growth would be stimulated, at no serious cost, if the government increased aggregate demand by increasing the federal deficit. Demand could also be increased by cutting taxes, of course, but that had several disadvantages—tax cuts were politically much harder to achieve than spending increases, they opened the door to demands that expenditures be cut, and they implied that individual citizens were better judges of what their money should be spent on than was government.

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